Picture: Steve Buissinne/Pixabay
Picture: Steve Buissinne/Pixabay

Youth back R400m Eastern Cape e-learning tender

By Bongani Hans Time of article published Oct 20, 2020

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Young people in the Eastern Cape have come out in support of Sizwe Africa IT Group which has been under criticism for winning a tender to distribute about 55 000 tablets to Grade 12 pupils in the province.

Members and supporters of the Concerned Young People's forum of South Africa (CYPFSA) will be protesting on Tuesday outside Bisho High Court where the provincial Department of Education will be arguing for an application for leave to appeal the court’s ruling, which in September interdicted the contract from going ahead.

The department wants the contract to continue until the court decides early next year whether or not to review it.

The CYPFSA members are accusing the Democratic Alliance and State Information Technology Agency (Sita) of attempting to sabotage Sizwe Africa, which won the R400-million tender.

Sita is under the control of Communication and Digital Technologies minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, whose husband Thato Abrahams has close relationships with business people in the IT sector.

Abrahams public profile also shows that he is extensively involved in IT-related businesses.

While Sizwe Africa was contracted to distribute the items to pupils, an East London-based company got a tender to provide data.

Since the tender was awarded for the project that was meant to help matric pupils to be able to learn without exercise and textbooks, the provincial Department of Education has been facing heavy criticism.

DA MPL Yusuf Cassim went as far as opening a criminal case against the department in May. Sita took a civil case route. Cassim alleged that Sizwe Africa got the tender because it is a subsidiary of Ayo Technology Solutions. He approached the office of the Public Protector to investigate.

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

Instead of cancelling the tender, Dyan said his organisation wants it to be extended and for Sizwe Africa to be allowed to distribute more tablets to other grades. He said the distribution of the 55 000 gadgets was a success story of the mostly rural province.

"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 the project that is progressive and serves the best interest of the scholars," he said.

He added that they want the provincial schools to be 100% paperless.

"People must stop purging black businesses," he said.

Education provincial spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said the department could not comment on the matter because it is sub-judice.

Cassim told Independent Media that he has no knowledge of the CYPFSA and what it had done for the benefit of young people. He said the DA was not opposed to e-learning programmes.

“What the DA is opposed to is to utilise the need of young people in order to enrich a hand-chosen company,” he said.

He added that the DA is not opposed to the growth of blacked-owned businesses.

Political Bureau

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