The Democratic Alliance welcomes the precautionary suspension of the Education Department’s Chief Financial Officer, Jason O’Hara, following allegations of administrative misconduct.
However, the Education Portfolio Committee can no longer be kept in the dark on this matter.
O’Hara’s suspension follows the arrest of an Education Official last week, who is alleged to have stolen money from the School Nutrition Programme.
The DA understands that the suspension is by no means a presumption or an accusation of guilt, but rather a a precautionary measure in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation and to dispel any accusation of undue interference.
It is however disappointing that the concerns regarding administrative misconduct relating to the CFO have been kept from the Education Portfolio Committee, as O’Hara has not been present at the committee for the past three sittings where the Department was presenting financial oversight reports.
When questioned about his absence at the time, the Department’s responses were vague and inconsistent, saying he was ill or had prior commitments.
I will therefore be writing to the Chairperson of the Education Portfolio Committee, Mpumelelo Saziwa, to request an urgent meeting of the committee and that the MEC for Education, Fundile Gade, must be summoned to explain the suspension, and why this issue was kept from the committee.
It is high time that the criminal elements within the Department be identified and that the full might of the law be brought to bear upon them.
We cannot afford to sacrifice the future of our children to individuals hell bent on looting state resources for their own personal gains.
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