‘Zuma man’ at centre of textbooks crisis

File photo - President Jacob Zuma and ANC Deputy Chairman in Limpopo Dickson Masemola during the Nelson Mandela Memorial Lecture delivered by Msholozi. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

File photo - President Jacob Zuma and ANC Deputy Chairman in Limpopo Dickson Masemola during the Nelson Mandela Memorial Lecture delivered by Msholozi. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Published Jul 15, 2012



The man at the centre of Limpopo’s textbook crisis is said to be untouchable because he is supporting President Jacob Zuma’s bid for a second term.

Three independent sources - two Limpopo ANC leaders close to Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale and a well-placed pro-Zuma source - told The Sunday Independent this week that although the provincial ANC had “lost confidence” in Education MEC Dickson Masemola, he could not be removed from his position because he was “a Zuma man”.

Masemola, also the provincial ANC’s deputy chairman, was next to Zuma when he delivered the Nelson Mandela lecture in Thohoyandou this week.

Most of Masemola’s ANC colleagues in the province, including Mathale, chose not to join Zuma on the podium. Under Mathale’s leadership, Limpopo has taken a resolution not to support Zuma’s bid for a second term as ANC leader.

On Friday, Masemola dismissed the claims as “propaganda” designed to tarnish his image.

“I don’t understand what they mean by saying I am a Zuma man. I am a disciplined member of the ANC working for the organisation with diligence and commitment.”


On his way to Thohoyandou, Zuma met traditional leaders in Sekhukhune, the biggest region in the province. Masemola led the region for a decade up until 2009.

Masemola was part of Mathale’s faction in the province until recently, but is believed to have switched allegiance.


The ANC Youth League in Limpopo, led by Julius Malema supporters, is calling for action against those responsible for the textbook crisis in the province.

ANC Limpopo secretary Soviet Lekganyane said that while the party accepted that education faced challenges throughout the country, “in our case we have reached intolerable levels”. He refused to say whether the provincial ANC held Masemola personally liable for the Limpopo textbook crisis, saying only that the party would “advise” Mathale “accordingly”.


A provincial ANC leader said Mathale could not fire Masemola for two reasons: he no longer had executive authority over the department because it was under administration; and there was concern about a possible backlash from Masemola’s supporters in Sekhukhune.

He said the least Mathale could do was to await the national intervention team’s report and act.

The source claimed that Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga had turned a blind eye to Masemola’s mess because she, too, supports Zuma’s bid for a second term. Motshekga’s spokesman, Panyaza Lesufi, hit back. “Where on earth have you seen a minister firing an MEC?”

News of Masemola’s rumoured backing of Zuma comes in the wake of a report by the former administrator of the province’s education department, Dr Anis Karodia, which found that Masemola allegedly contributed to his department’s “pathetic” state of affairs.

In a series of exposés in recent weeks, Independent Newspapers reported that Karodia’s report claimed that Masemola played a role in his bankrupt department’s unauthorised expenditure and possibly interfered in the awarding of contracts.

“Documents revealed that the BAC (bid adjudication committee) has been influenced by members of the staff that do not sit on the BAC, primarily in this has been the former HOD and there is a distinct possibility of subtle interference by the current MEC, who took over in 2009,” reads the report.

An audit report stated that Masemola’s department had paid a company linked to him, Aurecon JV, R2 million a month more than what was tendered in the six months leading to its bankruptcy last year.

The department then couldn’t afford to buy textbooks. It was placed under administration by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in December.

Two forensic reports found evidence of maladministration, financial mismanagement, tender fraud and nepotism in the department.

It was

reported that Aurecon JV - an engineering joint venture which included Tubatse Consulting Engineers – was paid excessive amounts between April and October last year. The companies deny this.

Johan van Rensburg, a known associate of Masemola’s, is the sole director of Tubatse. Van Rensburg has dismissed any insinuation of impropriety.

A Gobodo forensic report found that the department irregularly increased by R19m the contract of EduSolutions, a private firm that failed to deliver textbooks in Limpopo as part of its R320m contract.

Karodia’s report also put the blame on Masemola and other senior managers, saying they failed to act against budget abuse.

Masemola maintained his innocence and dismissed the Karodia report as “pure lies” and a “tabloid report” based on unsubstantiated allegations.


He said it was “disingenuous and unfair” for anybody to blame him for the textbook crisis because records were available to prove his department had ordered the books as far back as September. He insisted the department had sought approval from the National Treasury.

Masemola said that under his leadership, the department had “arrested” the decline in matric results and improved results by 15 percent. - Sunday Independent

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