COSATU Seeks Clarity On R431 Million Spent To Disinfect Schools

COSATU has requested that the Gauteng Department of Education provides a detailed report on the R431 million that has been spent in the province to disinfect schools and asked that investigations be held for anyone suspected of corruption. 

The Gauteng Department of Education has allegedly spent R431 million on the decontamination of schools in the province over a period of three months. 

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has released a statement saying it is concerned about this as well as the number of infections which occurred in schools during the period between June to November 2020 which resulted in the regular closure of schools. 

COSATU says it will not sit back and watch the resources which are meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus, be stolen. 

Education activists, Equal Education has said that the amount spent on the deep cleaning of schools was unnecessary as it was not required by the Department of Basic Education's Covid-19 standard operating procedures. 

They said that the Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi owed the public answers as to why so much money was spent on disinfecting schools. 

Lesufi wrote to the Special Investigating Unit and the auditor-general to investigate the matter and the Gauteng Education Department later released a report which detailed how and why the money was spent. 

"The decontamination, disinfection and cleaning of educational facilities commenced in June in preparation for the opening of schools on June 8. This disinfection involved 2,207 schools and the 38 admin buildings. The case management strategy, in the beginning, was based on the understanding that after a person(s) had tested positive, the facility would have to be decontaminated, disinfected and deep cleaned. The work was generally only paid from September 2020," read the report. 

The department also spent money on "fogging" which is a form of Covid-19 cleaning, however the Department of Basic Education's Covid-19 standard operating procedure stated that fogging was not recommended. Equal Education says that the department needs to account for this. 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) said that the millions of rands spent on fogging schools could have been spent of building new schools in the province so that overcrowding of the current schools could be eased.

The hundreds of companies which benefitted from the jobs to clean the schools reportedly had no experience or expertise in the cleaning industry. Pest control, hygiene and interior landscaping company Rentokil said that the amounts that they charged does seem significantly higher than what their company would charge. 

Equal Education said that education departments must spend the budgets allocated to them responsibly and transparently as the sector has experienced many budget cuts due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“Now, more than ever, the government needs to use public funds ethically and efficiently. The struggle against inequality demands a capable and ethical government,” Equal Education said.

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