992 24.06.2012 Text books and stationary at the Department of Education's wearhouse in Polokwana after the department delayed in suppying schools around the Limpopo province. Picture: Itumeleng English

The ANC intends laying criminal charges against anyone found responsible for the Limpopo book crisis.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the ANC was going to ask President Jacob Zuma to get a final report on the state of Limpopo’s education affairs.

He said the report would determine what actions would be taken against anyone who was responsible for the mess that has embarrassed the country.

“The national executive committee reaffirmed that education is an apex that needs the focus of all South Africans. It was agreed that education requires the mobilisation of society to make positive contributions in ensuring that the South African child, the black child in general and the African child in particular have access to quality education,” Mantashe said.

“The NEC also considered the lack of delivery of books in Limpopo as shocking and unacceptable and believes that whoever is responsible must face stern action that may include criminal charges.

“The NEC acknowledged that this is a serious failure on the part of government and the department of education at both national and provincial levels.”

The ANC endorsed the cabinet’s decision to intervene in education in Limpopo, saying “the fact that by December 2011 no books were ordered and (there was) no budget for purchasing books was the first sign that there was a crisis”.

In resolving the Limpopo books crisis, Mantashe said the ANC had agreed to set up a logistics team which would be in place until the 2013 academic year.

“The National Treasury was directed to work closely with the Department of Basic Education so that complaints about non-availability of resources are not used as an excuse.

“The NEC emphasised that throwing money at the problem must be avoided.

“The national Department of Education must take full responsibility for the purchasing and delivery of books, even for the next academic year.

“The verification of schools that still have not received the books must continue,” Mantashe said.

The secretary-general urged people within the ANC, the tripartite alliance and the ANC Youth League to stop asking for the resignation of Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

He said the task teams set up to probe the crisis should first complete their jobs.

Minutes after the briefing, the ANC Youth League issued a media alert reiterating its call for the axing of Motshekga. ANCYL spokeswoman Khusela Sangoni-Khawe said the league was extremely perturbed by the ongoing Limpopo textbook crisis.