Equal Education Demands Accountability

Equal Education released a statement which revealed that the Gauteng Education Department spent R431 million on COVID-19 “deep cleaning”, which Equal Education believes was a waste.

Reports were released by Maverick Citizen which revealed that the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) allegedly wasted R431 million on “deep cleaning” schools, which was not required by the Basic Education Department.

This report worries Equal Education as they believe that the money could have been used to build five schools.

The allegations are especially disturbing because the DBE and provincial education departments' budgets are quite tight, as the National Treasury is giving less and less money to the sector.

Tito Mboweni’s, Finance Minister, 2020 Supplementary Budget gave no extra funding to the basic education sector for COVID-19 related expenses.

Instead, the Treasury cut R2 billion of funding and shifted around money in the basic education budget to pay for COVID-19 essentials in schools such as water tankers, soap, sanitiser, mobile toilets and mobile classrooms. 

Equal Education believes that it is important for the education departments to spend their budgets in a responsible and transparent way.

"Wasteful spending is especially unacceptable right now when money is desperately needed for school infrastructure and for school meals," read the statement.

Decreases to the Education Infrastructure Grant have resulted in more than 300 Gauteng school infrastructure projects – costing R223 million –  being stopped or delayed.

The National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) did not get any new money from the Treasury last year – even though the DBE has said that it might run out of money to provide food parcels. 

Equal Education requests that the Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi answer the following questions:

  • How was spending on “deep cleaning” authorised within the GDE, when it is not required by the DBE’s COVID-19 SOP?
  • Was public money spent on “fogging”, despite the DBE’s COVID-19 SOP explicitly stating that fogging is not recommended?
  • What circumstances explain why MEC Lesufi was “not aware” that such payments were made?
  • What measures are being put in place to avoid similar cases of alleged wasteful spending in future? 
  • What are the details of the investigation within the GDE, including the timelines?

Now more than ever, the government needs to use public funds in an ethical and efficient manner. The struggle against inequality demands a capable and ethical government!

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