The recently tabled 2017/18 annual report for the Department of Education shows a department unravelling at the seams, unable to spend money on critical projects, while wasting funds through irregular expenditure and non-core business.
This is the reason why schools are not being built and why learners are still forced to go to school in mud structures and use pit toilets!
The Department underspent its allocated budget for the 2017/2018 financial year by a massive R213,4 million, with almost R93 million not spent on Early Childhood Development centres.
A scandalous R1.6 billion was recorded as irregular expenditure, with more than a billion of this falling under the umbrella of infrastructure.
The 2017/2018 financial year was also the fifth year in a row that the Department has received and qualified audit report.
For five years the Department has been unable to identify and rectify its errors.
Instead of taking disciplinary action against cases of irregular expenditure that constituted a crime, these cases were not even reported to the SAPS. No disciplinary actions, or even hearings, were conducted for cases of financial misconduct.
Allegations of theft or fraud with regards to forging financial documents over R100,000 were not reported to authorities. Officials who work for the Department, and who had private business interests in contracts awarded by the Department, have been allowed to fly under the radar.
Basically, corrupt officials within the Department are being left to steal and loot from the people of the Eastern Cape with impunity.
The DA also notes with concern that the Department is still unable to fill vacant posts, especially in the rural areas, and in special needs schools.
R13 million went unspent on special schools for the 2017/2018 financial year, which should have been spent of filling vacancies, supplying Learner Teacher Support Material and assistive devices.
A Democratic Alliance-led provincial government will ensure that the education of our youth is prioritised and that any and all forms of corruption are dealt with in the harshest terms.
Recommendations from the Auditor General will be acted on, and those responsible will be held to account.
Edmund van Vuuren
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