The decision by Premier Oscar Mabuyane to suspend the Head of Education, Dr Naledi Mbude, reportedly for the delay in textbook deliveries and failure to spend the infrastructure grant, raises serious questions.
In response to questions posed by the Democratic Alliance during a portfolio committee meeting on Monday, Dr Mbude revealed several concerning issues taking place within the Department.
Dr Mbude said she had discovered that the Department had been deliberately submitting manual orders for textbooks and stationery for years, delaying the payment for said materials until the next financial year due to insufficient funds in the current budget.
Doing so is a direct violation of the Public Finance Management Act.
Dr Mbude also informed the committee that the reason the infrastructure budget was underspent, was due to significant irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure that she had discovered in the infrastructure programme and that the Department was currently conducting a full audit of infrastructure projects.
In her response, she revealed that audits for two districts had been completed. These had already uncovered several cases where there were huge discrepancies between what was paid for and what was actually delivered.
Dr Mbude said the audit was being conducted because the Auditor-General had found that the Department did not have an asset register.
The DA has submitted follow up questions to the Department in relation to these revelations and, if we do not receive the promised written responses, we will pursue Public Access to Information Act (PAIA) applications to bring the truth to light.
Dr Mbude’s responses to our questions earlier this week have given a glimpse into the extent of the rot inside the Department.
The DA will continue to pursue these issues, regardless of the steps taken to prevent the seething rotten underbelly of a corrupt Department from being exposed.