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THE CASH-strapped Limpopo Department of Education spent millions of rand of taxpayers’ money on computers and printers that are gathering dust in hundreds of schools across the province.
The Star has obtained a confidential departmental report on the “verification of IT equipment supplied to schools”, dated November 24, 2009.
It showed that 42 percent of computers and printers supplied to 1 000 schools – or a quarter of the province’s 4 000 schools – remained unused because of lack of electricity, security and training. At least two computers were installed in each school.
The revelation suggests that maladministration and financial mismanagement rather than stationery procurement problems by private company EduSolutions could have been the root cause of the province’s raging education crisis.
The Star reported last week that the provincial education department irregularly increased the budget of EduSolutions by R19 million.
It spent millions on accommodation for staff who never attended workshops, and apparently also increased the value of the contracts of two infrastructure development companies by between 57 percent and a whopping 161 percent through variation orders.
The Limpopo education department failed to order textbooks in September, alongside eight other provincial departments in the country, after accumulating unauthorised expenditure amounting to R2.2 billion last year.
The scandal has seen thousands of Limpopo pupils without textbooks for six months after EduSolutions failed to deliver them as part of its R320m contract. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, who took over the provincial education department after Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan placed it and four others under administration in December, was forced to admit last week that not all Limpopo schools received textbooks.
Penned by the department’s senior manager for asset and fleet management, Sam Mabitsela, the confidential report states that “it is clear from the attached report that 42 percent of the IT equipment supplied is not in use, the reason… is either that the school has no electricity, no security or the computer is not yet connected”.
Mabitsela said the computers were still in their boxes or were being used “from the principals’ homes”.
Mabitsela accused the department’s former government information technology officer, Mojalefa Lekoto, of breaching supply chain management practices. He said it was irregular to buy, receive and distribute computers or buy quantities of assets without knowing the end user.
The discovery of discarded textbooks in the bush at Giyani last week exposed tensions between the national and provincial basic education departments. Motshekga’s spokes- man, Panyaza Lesufi, accused unnamed people of sabotaging the ministry – an allegation made by Gordhan in January.