Department of education spends millions on overpriced PPE for schools

Issued by Yusuf Cassim, MPL
Shadow MEC for Education

The Department of Education has apparently wasted millions of rands, paying exorbitant amounts for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for schools, which illustrates once again how the Eastern Cape is becoming the epicentre of Covid-19 corruption.

After many attempts to obtain the truth from the MEC for Education, Fundile Gade, through means of parliamentary questions, and asking him directly in a portfolio committee meeting, the costing of PPE distributed to schools has finally been revealed.

Instead of providing the answers, the MEC has hidden behind empty promises that the Portfolio Committee would be supplied with the unit costs of the PPE.

It has now become abundantly clear why we have waited over a month to get the answers.

The MEC, in his response to a follow up question on the cost of PPE that I had asked during the Legislature Plenary last week Wednesday (1 July 2020), admitted that the department is paying the maximum price for PPE.

The below costing is what the department has paid for the listed items:

  • Thermometers with batteries – R 2 595,00
  • Sanitizer 25 litre – R 4 665,00
  • Germ killer 25 litre – R4 665,00

After conducting a quick price check at retail outlets, the above items can be obtained for the following costs:

  •  Thermometers with batteries – R 510,00
  • Sanitizer 25 litre – R 899,00
  • Germ killer 25 litre – R416,00

The amount that the department has paid for various PPE items are approximately five times more than the retail price.

The department has already spent millions in obtaining overpriced PPE and yet, there are still schools which are unable to open due to the non-delivery of PPE.

While the virus is quickly starting to spread through schools in the province, the quality of PPE supplied to schools in the province is of utmost priority. It seems that the department has failed in this regard too.

There have been no quality checks conducted on the PPE supplied by over 250 suppliers to keep our children and teachers safe, have been quality checked. What is even worse than the inflated prices paid by the department, is the total disrespect shown to the well-being of our teachers and learners by supplying sub-standard PPE is disgraceful. It is clear that the department has not prioritised the safety of our learners and teachers.

Teachers in the Eastern Cape tested hand sanitiser that was supplied by the department compared to that bought at a local pharmacy. The teachers put fire to the two sanitisers and the department supplied sanitizer did not burn at all showing little or no alcohol in the sanitiser.

The lives of our learners and teachers are continued to the but at risk by the department, that is not only making the Eastern Cape a corona epicentre, but also a corona corruption epicentre.