Education Department digs in heels over e-learning contract, at taxpayers’ expense

Issued by Yusuf Cassim, MPL
Shadow MEC for Education

The Eastern Cape Department of Education refuses to admit its mistakes and self-correct with respect to the irregular E-learning procurement contract entered into with Sizwe Africa IT Group, despite a court interdict pending a full review.

This became clear during a sitting of the portfolio committee on Education, requested by the Democratic Alliance, which met on Thursday to consider the implications of the interdict and pending review.

The DA has consistently contended that the procurement was done illegally, when the Department insisted on hand picking the supplier, at clearly inflated costs, and refusing to follow the correct procurement processes through the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), as is required by law.

The DA supports the initiative to provide e-learning devices for our learners.

Under an honest capable government, this would have been sourced through an open tender, following the prescribed legislative requirements, to ensure the best possible deal for taxpayers and learners alike.

The chickens are now coming home to roost for the Education Department, who insisted on pressing ahead with their hand-picked supplier and thus exposing the Department to increased liability.

The Department has now indicated that it will dig in its heels, appealing the interdict of the court and defending the legal review tooth and nail, with the hope that even if the contract is deemed irregular, that the courts will still allow it to proceed.

This raises the question as to why this specific contract and supplier is so important to the Department?

The insistence to still press ahead will no doubt pro-long the exposure of the Department to further risk, with the legal costs mounting along the way.

The court review of the contract will likely take place in February or March next year, with the contract on hold until then at least.

We believe that Department must cut its losses sooner rather than later and hold those responsible for getting the department into this mess, to account.