Latest arrests reveal an Education Department in crisis

Issued by Yusuf Cassim, MPL
Shadow MEC for Education

The shocking report of four senior officials, who allegedly defrauded the Department of R59 million meant for purchasing textbooks for pupils, has revealed an Eastern Cape Department of Education (EC DoE) in crisis.

The charges, dating back to 2014, have revealed just how deep and far back the rot within the Department has spread, with top leadership, including the former Superintendent General (SG) Mthunywa Ngonzo implicated in the fraud.

Alongside Ngonzo in the East London Magistrate’s Court on Monday appeared current Deputy Director General (DDG) and former acting SG Monwabisi Tywakadi, former chief education specialist manager Noxolo Gwarube, IT deputy director Tyrone Graig Fourie, and businessman Johannes Bouwer Smith, who was charged along with his company, Siegesmund Trust.

They were charged with 15 counts of fraud, corruption, attempted fraud, theft and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

This is just one more example of how far the cancer of corruption has been allowed to run rampant through the Department.

If top leadership have been subverting the checks and balances for years, it is no wonder that the Department has created an environment of chaos and confusion that is ripe for looting!

The shocking waste of public funds meant for school infrastructure, wasted on inflated PPE procurement from dubious suppliers, and the Sizwe Afrika IT contract that will drain hundreds of millions from the Department’s coffers, with no learner currently benefitting, should come as no surprise.

EC DoE MEC, Fundile Gade’s continued lack of action highlights that he is not concerned about the rot in his Department.

The ongoing delays in appointing permanent staff to critical positions such as that of former SG Themba Kojana, who passed away in January, and Chief Financial Officer of the EC DoE is further exacerbating the leadership crisis.

I will be submitting parliamentary questions to MEC Gade to request a full update on all critical vacant posts including a timeline for when these posts will be filled. I will also be asking for an update on internal disciplinary measures being taken against those implicated in defrauding the Department.

The Democratic Alliance will continue to fight to bring about changes to the education system that will uplift and empower individuals for a better tomorrow.