Cape Town - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has defended the awarding of a R600 million contract to supply 3500 schools with water tanks despite the department not following normal tender processes.
“There was deviation from normal tender processes because of the emergency nature of the situation as the provision of water was a prerequisite to the reopening of schools.”
She said this as her department has come under criticism after revealing the circumstances surrounding the tender. She was replying in writing to a question posed by Freedom Front Plus MP Wynand Boshoff, who asked if the department awarded tenders connected to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Boshoff wanted to know the details of the tenders, names of service providers awarded contracts and whether there was any deviation from the standard supply chain management procedures.
In her reply, Motshekga said the contract was awarded to Rand Water for the provision of water tanks and water to 3500 schools to alleviate the Covid-19 pandemic.
Motshekga also said the procurement was done in terms of National Treasury regulations.
“The tender was awarded to Rand Water due to their proven track record of delivering huge projects within a short space and also because they are an entity of government through the Department of Water and Sanitation,” she added.
But Boshoff said Motshekga’s replies had led to more questions than answers.
These included the number of schools to be linked to a municipal water network, boreholes sunk on school grounds, how many water tanks were provided and their combined capacity.
“By doing a division sum, one realises that just more than R170000 was spent per school. Average numbers are, however, problematic and do not necessarily provide reliable information about any one particular case,” Boshoff said.
He also said according to broad cost calculations his party obtained from the industry, the spending in question seemed to be excessive at first glance.
“Since lockdown commenced, the Freedom Front Plus warned that it could create circumstances in which reckless and unscrupulous people can exploit taxpayers,” he added.
Boshoff said the onus was now on the Motshekga to lay to rest the suspicion brought about by the expenditure, by providing more comprehensive information.
Briefing the media on Sunday ahead of the reopening of schools, Rand Water chief executive Sipho Mosai said a total of 2443 out of the 2634 schools received water tanks nationwide.
He had blamed issues in providing the water tanks to schools on the difficult terrain and distances between schools in some of the provinces.
On Tuesday, the entity said it distributed and installed 7594 tanks throughout the country. “The scope of our partnership entails the supply of water tanks and installation of the water tanks with related reticulated systems and the supply of water tankers,” it said in a statement.
It also said 1322 new tanks were in transit to schools with 522 already allocated at a central area with the provinces for distribution.