R87 Million taken out of the mouths of Mpumalanga learners

By Jane Sithole MPL, DA Spokesperson on Education:

The Mpumalanga Department of Education, which amassed a total of over R161 million in irregular expenditure for the 2014/15 financial year, spent over half of that money fighting an ongoing court case relating to the National Schools Nutritional Programme.

The remaining 46% that was incurred irregularly was as a result of the Department’s failure to follow proper procurement procedures and its non-compliance with supply chain management.

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What is most concerning is that as a direct result of Education MEC, Reginah Mhaule’s inability to apply the principles of good governance and transparency in her department, learners in Quintile 1 to 3 schools have been robbed of R87 million that could have gone towards providing them with meals.

Currently, the average cost of a meal for each learner is R2.73 and R3.55 a day for primary and secondary school children respectively.

Most quintile 1 to 3 schools (also known as ‘no fee schools’) have learners from the poorest communities and many depend on that one meal a day provided by the NSNP.

R87 million should have been used to benefit learners, not to defend the Department against its own tender flaws. R87 million could have provided a meal to nearly 32 million primary school-children for one day or feed an extra 1 064 701 primary school children for a month.

If MEC Mhaule’s Department had followed proper tender processes from the onset, R87 million would not have been taken from the mouths of learners and more money would have been available to improve their quality of life.

It is actions such as this that shows how little regard this government has for its citizens. They would rather spend taxpayers money defending themselves against their wrongdoing than feed the children.