Johannesburg - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga bemoaned a media report on Thursday that she knew about the looming Limpopo textbook saga last year.
“(The) sensational lead article... (is) misleadingly (and) creates the impression that Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, has the authority to procure on behalf of a provincial department of education,” her spokeswoman Hope Mokgatlhe said in a statement.
She said even if Motshekga had been aware of the delivery problems, she did not have the authority to “effect procurement” due to the provisions in the SA Schools Act and the Public Finance Management Act.
The Star newspaper based its report on Thursday on a leaked report, compiled by the provincial education department, and handed to the presidential task team investigating the matter.
Mokgatlhe said the national basic education department was responsible for developing policy and the provinces had to implement it, and manage schools.
The head of the provincial department, who was also the accounting officer, was responsible for financial management, including procurement in the province.
“Even if the minister was aware of the challenges relating to the procurement of textbooks in the province, the minister could not procure on behalf of the province,” said Mokgatlhe.
“It must also be emphasised that the minister only assumed the executive authority for the Limpopo department of education in December 2011, and not in July 2011.”
According to The Star, Motshekga met Limpopo education MEC Dickson Masemola in Polokwane on July 20 last year.
Officials apparently told Motshekga that R372 million would not be enough to buy textbooks and stationery. The Limpopo government could not buy textbooks in September because it did not have enough money.
Motshekga reportedly would not comment on claims that she had been briefed on the state of affairs before the textbook saga worsened.
Mokgatlhe said funding for provincial departments was allocated to the province by the Treasury.
“By December 2011 it became clear to the national government that the Limpopo province was in serious financial difficulty, prompting Cabinet to place five provincial departments under administration,” she said.
The provincial government however remained responsible for funding the departments during the intervention.
Claims that Motshekga was irresponsible was “fuelled by faceless” people with agendas, Mokgatlhe said. - Sapa