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Limpopo - Limpopo spent R3.1 million on mobile classrooms – only to dump them at its provincial education headquarters to gather dust for three years.
This was as thousands of pupils attend school in overcrowded classrooms or at mud schools across the province.
Auditor-General (AG) Terence Nombembe first raised a red flag on the situation in his 2009/10 financial-year audit report.
He said the expenditure was fruitless and wasteful, because the mobile units had not been distributed to schools where they were needed.
On Thursday, the units stood unused on the department’s premises on Hospital Street in Polokwane.
Limpopo Education Department head Morebudi Thamaga conceded on Thursday that the A-G had expressed concerns about the units.
“At the time of the audit, for the year ended March 2010, some mobile classrooms were ready to be distributed, but indeed, the A-G found that they had not been distributed to schools,” he said.
Thamaga has placed the blame at the door of Mzwandile Mathews, the department’s administrator.
This is despite the fact that the units were bought a year before the administrator was appointed when the department was placed under administration in December 2011.
Thamaga said Mathews had refused to distribute the units.
“He has taken a decision that he would not distribute any mobile units, saying he would rather refurbish classrooms and build new ones.
“We are helpless, we can’t do anything,” said Thamaga.
But Mathews hit back, saying he had nothing to do with the units.
He said the units were bought long before the national government had placed the provincial department under national administration.
“Why would I distribute something that was delivered in 2009?” said Mathews.
He said we would not be drawn into “power games of some sort” and that he had never been asked to distribute the mobiles.
“I find it strange that the head of department cannot say to you that they could not move the units because they had no money. I refuse to be used as a scapegoat,” he said.
In the meantime, ME Makgato Secondary School in Seshego outside Polokwane has more than 65 pupils per class, much more than the permitted 1:35 teacher-pupil ratio.
Teachers at the school said that with only nine classrooms, the school was unable to accept 85 another pupils who had applied for admission.
According to an Independent Development Trust report presented before the National Council of Provinces’ select committee on public service last April, Limpopo had 878 “inappropriate schools”, with 20 of them mud schools.
But Thamaga dismissed this claim.
”As far as we know, we don’t have mud schools in the province,” he said.