The interdict by Judge Buyiswa Majiki, to immediately stop the implementation of the controversial R538 million contract, between the Sizwe Africa IT Group, MTN and the Department, has serious implications for learners across the province.
The Democratic Alliance has repeated raised its concerns regarding this contract, in various Legislature forums, since it was first tabled in the portfolio committee. The DA wants to build an education system in the Eastern Cape that works, not one that is broken down by potential procurement irregularities.
The tablets, already distributed and in use by matriculants, could be rendered useless once the interdict is in effect and existing data is exhausted. It also has serious implications for the Department, who pushed ahead with the contract, despite serious concerns having been raised with them regarding the legalities.
The interdict was handed down in the Bhisho High Court, after Judge Majiki found a strong case had been made for an urgent interdict, until such time as a full review of the procurement process is undertaken in the high court.
The evidence is piling up that the contract, awarded to a subsidiary of well-known ANC-ally Iqbal Survé’s Ayo Technology Solutions, is irregular and could be set aside.
I have therefore written to the Portfolio Committee Chairperson, Mpumelelo Saziwa, to ask that the committee hold a special sitting to discuss the implications of the latest developments, and request that the Department provide feedback on the implications of the interdict.
The Department must also provide details of the cost implications, should the contract be set aside.
The DA has always maintained that the Department should have used an open tender process from the contract’s inception in August last year. This would have resulted in the e-learning contract being concluded much faster, with a better deal, with better value for our learners.
The Department’s decision to press ahead, with an irregular process, has created a mess, and they need to account on how they will clean it up.
It is our responsibility, as members of the portfolio committee, to ensure that the best interests of the learners are always put first.