Section 100(1)(b) was invoked in Limpopo Department of Education due to gross mismanagement of funds to the extent that the department was almost R1,2 billion in the red. Forensic investigations that followed showed that senior officials in the LDoE were allegedly responsible for gross mismanagement, a matter that is still following due process whereby these officials are still under investigation. It is no surprise that senior officials will be willing to provide the media with statistics with an attempt to discredit the administration. In fact, it is no secret that although the Limpopo Government requested Cabinet to withdraw the administration, Cabinet has ruled that Section 100(1)(B) continue in the province.
On Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM)
The process of textbook procurement in the past was left in the hands of a managing agent that was paid a percentage of the value of the orders. It stands to reason that the greater the quantities of orders the greater the percentage of commission. It also stood to reason that the greater the price of the book, the greater the commission. Even more so was the fact that the province was purchasing also entire consignments of new books each year due to extremely low or almost nil retrieval of books. This effectively meant that almost total quantities of books were purchased each year, thus benefitting publishers and the managing agent alike.
It was further evident that school principals were not held accountable for the low retrieval rates in schools and for keeping proper records thereof.
With the invoking of the Administration the entire procurement process was revised. The LDoE, through the office of the Administrator engaged in negotiations with publishers to reduce prices. Publishers agreed to lower prices to the extent that even the most expensive priced books were submitted with lower prices than the lowest price books on the National catalogue. It is important to state upfront that if such negotiations did not take place, the LDoE, given its accruals, would not have been able to procure textbooks for each learner over the past three years.
One of main debilitating factors to textbook procurement in the province is that of credible data, a matter that is recognised by the Auditor General’s office and which prompted National Treasury to request Stats SA to conduct an audit of learner numbers and educator numbers. It is interesting to note that while the same numbers are used for the procurement of both textbooks and stationery, there is always an indication of shortage of textbooks while there is no such indication with stationery.
For the 2015 school year, given the inherent problems in the province, a decision was taken to procure 20% of Grades 1-12 textbooks, despite indications being that retrieval for the previous two years was as high as 90%. To ensure credibility of orders from schools, the LDoE with the approval of the Administrator, requested school principals to complete orders on CDs and hard copies. These were signed off by the school principal, circuit and district managers. The orders were uploaded onto an electronic system of the South African Post Office, a system that was initiated by the Administration on advice from the South African Human Rights Commission.
The department agrees that the upload of orders showed that in excess of 4,3 million orders were requested from schools. It however would have been irresponsible for any department not to have done any due diligence on the orders from the schools, especially given their credibility in the past.
The analysis of the orders showed that some schools orders were as much as 50-60% of learner numbers; schools were ordering teacher guides for learners; a large percentage of the orders were for graded reader packs for each learner instead of ordering packs per class. After analysis the department placed an order for an additional 960, 500 textbooks in addition to the 2 262 530 purchased in August and the 1,6million books purchased in April. To date almost 60% of the second order has been delivered to the warehouse by publishers. The delivery of the additional books to schools is in process and will be completed in the first week of the reopening of the new school calendar year. The department is therefore more than confident great progress has been made to resolve the textbook issues in the province.
The department has record of all textbooks deliveries to each school over the past 3 years and is more than ready to disclose any school that incorrectly claims non delivery.
On Auditor General
The Department accepts the findings of the Auditor-General. A team has, however, been put together to continue discussions on the various items that have been identified as needing more attention. The AG’s report is a matter of public record but the process is not complete as the Department is yet to appear before the provincial and national Select Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) as well as the provincial and national Portfolio Committees. The Department will therefore make public its response to the AG’s report at the appropriate forums.
Current status of Section 100
The intervention in the five Limpopo provincial departments in terms of section 100(1) (b) of the Constitution, which include the Department of Education, was a determination of the national executive – Cabinet. It can only be Cabinet with the concurrence of the National Council of Province that can pronounce on the status of the section 100(1)(b) intervention in the Limpopo Department of Education, and its four sister departments.
The Administrators seconded by Cabinet to the five Limpopo provincial departments are still in those five departments, until Cabinet determines otherwise. The choice for the Administrators to leave those five departments, is definitely not theirs, but that of Cabinet. In a nutshell, it is the prerogative of the relevant authorities to revoke the intervention in terms of section 100(1)(b) of the Constitution from the five Limpopo provincial departments.
Enquiries: Elijah Mhlanga – 083 580 8275
Issued by the Department of Basic Education