Thousands of learners in Graaff Reinet have been left in the lurch as critical upgrades to their schools have ground to a halt because the Department of Public Works has failed to pay service providers for more than a year.
Contractors, sub-contractors and consultants who were tasked with the upgrades at Lincolm and Ashervale Schools have abandoned the sites after not being paid for 15 months, with many being forced to retrench workers, as they are owed in excess of R4.2 million.
Children are forced to use overcrowded, dilapidated classrooms, while the adjacent work site stands vacant, the unfinished foundations a constant reminder of the broken promises of an uncaring ANC government.
The incomplete building sites are a safety hazard for the learners, who can only imagine what the facilities would have been like, had they ever been completed.
The Democratic Alliance has investigated this matter and has been informed that the Department of Public Works has been acting as the implementing agent on behalf of the Department of Education, who has failed to transfer the necessary funds to Public Works.
At the heart of this issue is poor planning, poor budgeting and fundamental issues in terms of intergovernmental relations. And, while these departments point fingers at each other, the community continues to suffer.
It is fundamentally unfair to learners and school staff, as well as to the service providers and community members that were retrenched as a result.
I have written to the MEC of Public Works, Pemmy Majodina to urgently intervene, and to ensure that funds are collected from the Department of Education so that these projects can resume and be completed.
The DA believes that Education is a constitutional right, a basic human right, a strategic priority and the best possible vehicle to empower South Africans and to develop our country.
The learners of Lincolm and Ashervale Schools are being denied this right.
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