The DA calls for an urgent investigation by the Public Protector into the actions of the Eastern Cape MEC for Transport, Thandiswa Marawu, as executing officer of her department. This follows the questionable awarding of the current tender for scholar transport in the province. No bidding process took place.

The tender for the amount of R206 million was awarded to One Future Development 46, whose board chairperson, Mr. Simlindile Hintsa, is also the CEO of the Africa’s Best 350 bus company that operates in the Transkei.

According to the National Scholar Transport Policy the Department of Transport must adhere to legislation and policies that promote SMMEs and BBBEEs in the appointment of scholar transport operators.

The reasons given by the Department of Transport for the deviation in awarding this contract without the proper bidding process was because of the short period it was given to take over scholar transport from the Department of Education. This is not true as the department was informed last year already that it would take over this function. Just because the department has been under pressure to provide decent scholar transport does not mean it can bend the rules as it likes.

In terms of the National Treasury regulations tenders for over R500 000 must follow a bidding process. In this case the tender was awarded without any bidding by other potential bidders taking place. This is no different for what happened in the case of the Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde and National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele and the building leases for the police. The provincial Public Protector must act.

I have today written to the Public Protector in the Eastern Cape, Adv. Nomsa Thomas, for an urgent investigation into this matter.

The fact that scholar transport in the Eastern Cape was only implemented this week has had an adverse effect on education in the province this year. We have also learned of discrepancies which has left scholars by the roadside because of the incorrect allocation of the number of students per school and per route by the department.

If an investigation is not done in order to force the department to get its act together we are heading for another disaster in the province. The department is leaving itself open for litigation from companies because it is not adhering to the proper tender processes.

It is clear that the department has no regard for legislation and policies in terms of the PFMA nor does it have any regard for the oversight function of the legislature. This was again proven on Tuesday when the department failed to attend a meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Transport to discuss various serious matters of financial mismanagement.

We cannot allow that our children are robbed of a decent education because of the irresponsible actions of the Department of Transport.