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Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has declined the DA's offer to sponsor vehicles to deliver textbooks to Limpopo schools, a spokesman said on Thursday.
“They have declined. The minister is protecting her own reputation at the expense of young people getting textbooks,” Democratic Alliance national spokesman Mmusi Maimane said.
The department was unavailable for comment, but it earlier confirmed receiving the offer.
Earlier on Thursday the DA offered Motshekga a fleet of vehicles, which it would pay for, after the department missed a court-ordered delivery deadline on Friday, June 15.
The new books would be mainly for Grades One, Two, Three and Ten, with top-ups for the other grades bought directly from publishers for R126 million.
“If the minister accepts this offer, we can have these vehicles ready to deliver books in every Limpopo education district within 48 hours,” Maimane said.
He said the DA had inspected a Polokwane warehouse on Wednesday, where thousands of textbooks were still stored. These books needed to be transported from Polokwane to other warehouses in five Limpopo education districts, and only then could they be delivered to schools.
“Limpopo schoolchildren have been without textbooks for almost seven months and shouldn’t have to wait any longer. This will take a massive effort as there are over 5000 schools without books. The department is behind schedule, with the hardest part of the delivery process still to come.”
On Wednesday, Motshekga expressed shock after learning of the non-delivery of textbooks for Grade Ten pupils in Limpopo.
“The situation is completely unacceptable. I have demanded a full report about reasons for this delay so that appropriate steps can be taken.”
She apologised and made assurances that a recovery plan had been developed so pupils could make up for lost time.
The national department took over the running of Limpopo's education department in December, following maladministration. Motshekga's office was informed that textbook delivery had been completed, but discovered delivery had in fact not taken place.
The department appealed to school governing bodies and opposition parties who had information on outstanding deliveries to pass it on, so the matter could be resolved.
DA MP Annette Lovemore on Thursday called for an independent inquiry into the matter. Given the provincial department was now under the national department's control, Motshekga was ultimately responsible for ensuring the books were delivered on time, she said in a statement.
“Her reaction is inexcusable.”
Lovemore said the fact that Motshekga was unaware the textbooks were not delivered was a clear indication she was not taking children's education seriously.
“That her department has to call on opposition parties to determine which schools remain without textbooks is further proof of this. It sends a powerful message that the people of Limpopo cannot trust the minister or this government to deliver the most basic services to the South African public.” - Sapa