Education Department carries bill of nearly half a billion in irregular expenditure

By Jane Sithole MPL, DA Spokesperson on Education:

The Mpumalanga Department of Education has accumulated a total of nearly half a billion rand on irregular expenditure.

This was revealed in the 2014/15 annual report which shows that in the last financial year alone, the department has netted R161 million on irregular expenditure bringing the total bill to nearly half a billion.

Click here for Annual Report.

The department has also regressed in its audit outcomes. For a Mpumalanga learner, this means that the Education department has not only failed to account for millions that could have been used to improve the quality of education, but it also means that Education MEC, Reginah Mhaule’s department has taken a step back in providing the key to an improved quality of life.

According to the Auditor General (AG), the qualified opinion came as a result of the department not having adequate systems to maintain records of immovable tangible capital assets to the value of over R1 billion.

Despite Premier David Mabuza’s repeated calls to put an end to officials doing business with government, the AG once again reported on employees of the department of Education having private or business interests in contracts awarded to their family members, partners or associates. These employees failed to disclose their interests giving room for nepotism and corruption to thrive.

In the 2014/15 financial year, 53 investigations by the Office of the Premier’s Integrity Monitoring unit relating to alleged procurement irregularities, fraud, corruption, theft and misuse of funds by employees in the Education department were underway.

Education is a constitutional right, a basic human right, and the best possible vehicle to empower South Africans. As such, MEC Mhaule must tighten her department’s internal controls to root out any corruption and nepotism and pull the reigns on her department to prevent it from continuing on this downwards spiral.

The DA hopes that the 53 investigations will yield positive results and mark the start of a turning point in the Department of Education where the wellbeing of learners and the delivery of quality education is placed first.  Education is vital to pursuing a better life.