Union calls for Lesufi to step down
Durban - THE Educators Union of South Africa (EUSA) is calling for the Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi to step down until the Special Investigations Unit’s investigation is finalised to avoid interference.
The unit is investigating allegations of tender fraud of R431 million intended for the deep sanitising and cleaning of schools project.
This was after a voice note recording from a May 2020 meeting recently surfaced where Lesufi allegedly discussed the awarding of his department’s tenders.
It is alleged that during the meeting, Lesufi had stated that when tenders were advertised, there should be communication about them among his people.
He allegedly said that “people should be satisfied … and looked after”, referring to who is awarded the tenders.
The Gauteng Department of Education is currently under investigation for the wasteful expenditure of the R431 million tender and some education stakeholders have vowed they would pursue this matter further and if Lesufi is found guilty of any wrongdoing, that he faces the law.
Lesufi has denied the allegations against him, saying the voice note was tampered with.
While the South African Democratic Teachers Union said it will await the SIU report into the allegations, the EUSA called for Lesufi to voluntarily step aside or be suspended in order for the investigation to be handled in an honest and fair manner.
EUSA president Scelo Bhengu said they have always warned about mass corruption and the looting taking place within the Department of Basic Education.
Bhengu said the reluctance by the Presidency to investigate the looting of State funds meant for Personal Protective Equipment in the department said a lot about the superiority of the individuals concerned.
Bhengu implied that the approach used in dealing with the corruption allegations against the asbestos matter involving suspended Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko, and the former Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku, who were all removed from their positions following the launch of the SIU investigation, prompted by the multimillion-rand PPE scandal at the Gauteng Department of Health.
Masuku was sacked in connection with the same tender debacle.
“We are not saying that he is guilty, but we should bear in mind that Lesufi’s department is currently under investigation for a R431 million tender. We are worried that this matter is not given the same attention. We note the selectiveness of the government in attending to issues of corruption. All criminals who loot government funds should be dealt with harshly and equally, to send out a strong message to those who wish to join this cabal,” said Bhengu.
As an education stakeholder, the Gauteng DA spokesperson on education Khume Ramulifho called on people who had information and evidence on Lesufi’s alleged tender interference to come forward.
Ramulifho said the allegation was a clear indication that “the ANC’s system of patronage is still alive and well, and that Lesufi himself seemingly has no objection in facilitating such patronage to certain individuals”.
He said the DA education portfolio would pursue this matter until the end and ensure that if there was any wrongdoing pointing at Lesufi, that he faced the necessary consequences.
Lesufi said he was aware of the forces who were at play and wanted to assassinate his character for political expediency.
He said: “Unfortunately, in a democratic society, the accuser does not have to prove their allegation, but the accused has to prove the innocence.”
He said he had no control of these faceless elements but had to continue with his work and ensure that quality education was realised.