OPENING OF HALF-BUILT SCHOOL BECOMES R4 MILLION ANC JUNKET

The Eastern Cape Department of Education spent over R4 million for the extravagant opening of a half-built school in Willowvale last week which allegedly included R50 000 each for television presenter Vuyo Mbuli and Poet of the Nation Zolani Mkiva. This happened despite the fact that the department is in a cash crisis. What makes it worse is the blatant abuse of state money for an ANC junket.

The lack of funds in the Department of Education has had an adverse effect on scholar transport, the school nutrition programme, learner-teacher support material, the appointment of substitutes and the provision of school furniture in the province. Earlier this week the DA exposed how state-run schools in the province have been without stationery for the past four months. Last week we exposed how the department has still not started work at the seven mud schools in the Transkei, despite the 31 March 2011 deadline.

It is unacceptable that this department, which has been placed under the administration of the National Department for Basic Education, was allowed to squander R4 million on an ANC-event which had nothing to do with education.

Mbuli was paid to be the MC while Mkiva was allegedly paid R50 000 to be co-chairperson at the event on 15 April. A tent was also hired from Durban and all Eastern Cape MECs and a number of national ministers were invited. Furthermore residents from all the ANC-wards in Willowvale were bussed to the school. Busses were also paid for to pick up learners – during schools hours – from Engcobo (which is outside the district) to the event. A small consolation is that the principal of one school refused to send his learners and the bus returned to Willowvale empty.

It is inconceivable that over R4 million was spent just to open one incomplete school. ANC branded cars were there and people wearing ANC T-shirts from as far as Butterworth made the event yellow.

This was a ridiculous abuse of state money to campaign for the ANC and seems to be the current trend within the ANC-run provincial administration. The MEC for Social Development, Pemmy Majodina, held a similar junket in Sterkspruit recently.

I will be asking legislature questions for written reply to the MEC of Education, Mandla Makupula, about this wasteful expenditure.

The seriousness of such needless squandering is exacerbated by the fact that the department will only have R700 million to spend on non-personnel issues for the period 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012.

The budget allocation for the department for the 2011/12 financial year is R24.6 billion. Of this amount 87 % will go to compensation of employees, namely R21.4 billion. This leaves 13 % or R3.2 billion to address cumulative over expenditure of R1.2 billion, made up of R800 million from the 2009/10- and R400 million from the 2010/11 financial years. The department also has to address accruals of R500 million and, in addition, has to cover the projected expenditure of R800 million over ten months to pay for the cost of the reinstatement of temporary educators as per the recent court order.

When all the above amounts are added up it is obvious that this department will have major difficulties in funding its various programmes with only R700 million available to it.

The ruthless and irresponsible actions of the ANC is costing the province dearly, especially the poor. It is time that the people stand up and made themselves heard. The upcoming municipal election is such an opportunity.