DA queries secutiiry measures at Education Dept

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Provincial Leader: Northern Cape:

The Democratic Alliance will be submitting written questions to the department of Education to determine why it was necessary to erect 200 security cameras at the department’s headquarters. It begs the question if the department has started smuggling with diamonds, as this is the type of security one normally sees at a diamond company.

We are concerned about the costs of this seemingly unnecessary project. The cost of the security cameras is estimated at R14 million, which is almost double the total infrastructure budget available for special schools in the 2015/16 financial year.

To install one security camera will cost about R70 000. This appears to be very high for a security camera. Locally, an infrared Sony security camera is available for R390. Did the department try to find value for money before awarding this contract or were costs inflated to benefit suppliers close to senior management?

We are also concerned about rumours that four people will be appointed to man a 24-hour security centre. What does the department have on its premises that needs to be protected at this cost?

The department has a current security contract. What will happen to the security company and the staff appointed in terms of this contract? Will this contract run together with the new security measures?

In his recent tabling of the provincial budget, the MEC for Finance spoke at length about the need to limit unnecessary spending. The department’s behaviour in this instance contradicts the MEC’s announcements that the provincial government will be expected to adhere to stringent cost containment measures. The MEC specifically cautioned departments against appointments that are made without due consideration to budget implications. Yet we see that unfunded posts for security staff are created and filled.

We would have welcomed this kind of expenditure to improve safety and security at our public schools. The R14 million could have gone a long way in addressing the infrastructure backlog at schools. According to the national department of Basic Education, there are still 65 schools in this province which relies on pit toilets. It is degrading to our learners to have to study in these circumstances.

The DA is firmly of the view that the core business of this department is learning and teaching. Money should therefore be budgeted and spent on the basis of this critical function. In the Northern Cape, where unemployment is at 38%, the least we can do is to educate our people.

Rumours have it that officials are currently restricted from doing school visits due to austerity measures being applied. The question is who will bear the brunt of this in the district other than the children themselves?

We call on the department to desist from unnecessary and luxury spending. We warn them that we will be keeping a close eye on their accounts.