Western Cape Education Department MEC Debbie Schäfer Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Western Cape Education Department MEC Debbie Schäfer Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Probe of R111.8m PPE contract welcome, says Debbie Schäfer

By Siphokazi Vuso Time of article published Aug 25, 2020

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Cape Town - The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has been criticised for awarding one company nearly R111.8 million to supply personal protective equipment (PPE).

The department is among five that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is investigating in a provincial procurement probe.

According to a published Procurement Disclosure Report, the company, called Masiqhame Trading 1057, got 74 of the department’s 87 tenders, and was paid 99.8% of all the PPE spending. The company has no digital presence, no website and no business address.

It appears to operate out of a residential address in Edgemead.

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said on Monday that their contract with the firm dated back to 2017.

“During 2017, the WCED procured services via the competitive bidding process for the supply and delivery of cleaning, gardening and electrical supplies for all our schools and offices for a period of three years.

“The contract was awarded to Masiqhame Trading and will expire on September 30. It is a contract of convenience and orders are placed as and when required,” she said.

Good secretary-general Brett Herron called for the company to be investigated.

“The SIU has already indicated that it is investigating some Western Cape Education Department Covid-19 procurements. I would be surprised if it is not the Masiqhame contracts since this company scored 99.8% of the department’s procurement from April to June.

“Out of the R112m spent by education, this company got R111.8m worth of contracts. If this procurement is not being scrutinised, I will ask the SIU to do so,” said Herron.

Schäfer said the department was aware of the SIU investigation and welcomed any probe. She said Masiqhame Trading supplied and delivered hygiene packs and cleaning materials.

“In accordance with the National Treasury Instruction on the emergency procurement for Covid-19 safety and hygiene materials, the department honoured its current contract with Masiqhame Trading for the supply and delivery of the required hygiene packs and cleaning materials. Although Masiqhame is our contracted supplier, all products were sourced from various local manufacturers,” she said.

ANC deputy chief whip in the provincial legislature and education spokesperson, Khalid Sayed, said they were awaiting the outcome of the SIU investigation.

“We are very much concerned with the allegations that have reached the public domain, especially around a department that is always complaining about lack of funds.”

Masiqhame Trading 1057 did not respond to calls on Monday.

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