File picture: Supplied

Port Elizabeth - The Department of Education in the Eastern Cape has had R530 million of its Education Infrastructure Grant returned to National Treasury due to "slow expenditure" in the
2015/16 financial year.
This was gazetted on Monday and according to Democratic Alliance (DA) Chief Whip in the Eastern Cape Legislature, Bobby Stevenson, the sum of money amounts to 33 percent of the total grant of R1 594 billion.
According to government gazette documents signed by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on March 3, the purpose of the grant was to help accelerate construction, maintenance, upgrading and rehabilitation of new and existing infrastructure in education.
This included district accommodation to enhance capacity to deliver infrastructure in education and to address damage to infrastructure caused by natural disasters. According to the gazette documents, the money had now been reallocated to other provinces, namely R400 million to Gauteng, R80 million to Limpopo and R50 million to the Western Cape.

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"There are over 600 hundred schools in this province that lack water, electricity and sanitation. This money would have gone a long way to assisting some of them put the indignity of pit toilets behind them. Thousands of learners must continue to suffer at the hands of inefficient bureaucrats," said Stevenson. He added the problem in the province concerning slow expenditure was the inability of the Department of Public Works to act as an implementing agent.
"This results in other service providers such as the Independent Development Trust and Coega Development Corporation having to do the job which results in much higher costs and delays," he said.
Eastern Cape Department of Education spokesperson Mali Mtima said the department was still preparing a statement with regard to the matter.