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Education interrupted - Daily Maverick and the DA partner to derail education in the Eastern Cape

Yugoslavian’-born Branislav “Branko” Brkic’s publication, has now stooped to gutter journalism.

Yugoslavian’-born Branislav “Branko” Brkic’s publication, has now stooped to gutter journalism.

Published May 26, 2022

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The Daily Maverick (DM), lead by has once again been played, this time by the Democratic Alliance (DA), by sabotaging a project that is not only meant to create paperless schools but also to introduce rural young people to modern learning technology.

Yugoslavian’-born Branislav “Branko” Brkic’s publication, has now stooped to gutter journalism, by dragging Sekunjalo Investment Holdings (SIH) chairperson, Dr Iqbal Survé’s name and image through the mud with the aim of drawing attention to its story, despite Survé having nothing to do with the deal or the project.

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On May 23, the publication ran a story rubbishing an Eastern Cape school tablet deal meant to prepare young people at the school level for a future driven by the latest technology.

The R400 million deal to supply 55 000 tablets to the provincial schools was awarded to Sizwe Africa IT Group (Sizwe Africa) in 2019. The contract was implemented in 2020.

The deal was welcomed by the Concerned Young People’s forum of South Africa (CYPFSA), who protested outside Bhisho High Court in October 2020, against those who had approached the court to interdict the contract from being fully realised.

CYPFSA national spokesperson, Mbulelo Dyan, accused those questioning the awarding of the tender of posing a threat to the “much-needed” paperless education of rural pupils. He further said they were also against the progress of black-owned businesses.

“The learners are enjoying the tablets, but the issue is the DA and its allies who want to turn the issue into politics. This is a project that is progressive and serves the best interest of the scholars,” said Dyan at the time.

According to this week’s DM story, Eastern Cape DA MPL Yusuf Cassim said the department had been forced to raise a contingent liability of R972.7-million to cover the contract, despite the initial cost being R538-million.

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“Since May 2020, the DA has consistently contended that the procurement was done illegally when the department insisted on handpicking the supplier, ANC crony Iqbal Survé’s Sizwe Africa IT Group, by piggybacking the lease of 55 000 tablets at exorbitantly inflated costs,” Cassim told Daily Maverick.

Sizwe Africa denies this is the case, saying in a statement that Independent Media has had sight off, that the monies that the Department had put forward, include all outstanding monies owed to Sizwe Africa, only part of which includes the tablets.

“It is our understanding that the Department in its budget presentation to Provincial Treasury, put forward the full outstanding amount owed to Sizwe for the provision of tablets and other related IT equipment,” said Sizwe Africa.

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The learning devices were to be distributed to matric pupils at schools across the Eastern Cape, as part of a greater e-learning initiative that also involved mobile broadcast studios from which teachers could transmit lessons across the province.

However, due to an urgent interdict issued by the High Court in favour of the State Information Technology Agency (Sita), which claimed that because it had not been involved in the deal, the awarding of the contract to Sizwe Africa It Group in 2019, was therefore illegal.

Sizwe Africa also made it clear that the transaction was above board and outright rejected Cassim’s claim that it wreaked of corruption.

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Sizwe Africa said the headline of the DM story, which suggested that Sizwe failed to deliver on the contract mandate, was misleading and factually incorrect. It said nearly all the items were delivered in accordance with the provisions of the contract signed between Sizwe Africa and the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

“The fact that the equipment was not used is attributable to a court interdict. It is disingenuous and mischievous to attribute this to Sizwe Africa IT Group,” read the statement.

Crushing the corruption claim, Sizwe Africa said Cassim has “conveniently forgotten” that the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) investigated and found no wrongdoing on its side.

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