Motshekga: I didn't lie

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

She never used anyone, including Karodia, as a shield to save herself in an uproar over the late delivery of school textbooks in Limpopo, Motshekga wrote in an open letter on Monday.

"The main point I want to respond to, relates to what seems to be the media's opinion that I have lied about having removed Dr Anis Karodia from the Limpopo education department as the head of intervention ... Dr Karodia is no longer head of the intervention team because of the instructions that I gave that he be removed. Dr Karodia did not leave Limpopo out of his free will."

She said Karodia was not a "fall guy", and that at a briefing in Limpopo, she accepted responsibility for the "textbook problem".

Motshekga said a City Press editorial had depicted her as a "a petty pathetic liar desperate to save [her] own skin at the expense of others".

"The person written about in the City Press cannot be the person I know myself to be.

"Thanks to my age, I am at a stage where there are very few things that I don't know about myself, so the City Press and Karodia could not be more wrong about me and the stupid things I'm capable of."

Speaking the truth
She said Karodia needed to say whether he left the department voluntarily or through her instruction.

Motshekga also asked if she could speak publicly on the reasons for his removal, despite both previously agreeing not to.

The City Press reported on June 24 that Motshekga had not fired Karodia, despite telling the media she had done so.
According to the newspaper Motshekga blamed Karodia for the department's failure to deliver textbooks to Limpopo pupils.

"Motshekga must apologise to me and speak the truth to the public," Karodia told the newspaper.

"She must clear my name and speak the truth."

In its editorial City Press asserted that education was in crisis and criticised Motshekga's description of the state's failure to deliver textbooks as "a problem, not a crisis".

"No amount of nonchalance or evasion by the education department can change the fact that when children have to rely on courts to get textbooks it means we have deep-seated problems in our education system," the editorial read. 

'Sabotage'
On Monday Motshekga also said the service providers who allegedly dumped textbooks meant for Limpopo pupils needed to be arrested.

"We feel this is now an act of sabotage, and we call upon the police to arrest these culprits without further delay," she said in a statement.

Motshekga said a team was sent to the province to investigate the service providers, and to lay charges against them where appropriate.

These books were not part of the court order to deliver textbooks to schools in the province by June 27, she said. Last week, service providers failed to deliver textbooks after the department had promised to rectify the situation.

Pupils in several Limpopo schools had been without textbooks for the past six months because the department failed to order them on time.

Civil rights organisation Section 27, which won a court order forcing the department to deliver the textbooks, said on Saturday it was concerned at reports of shortages, even after books were supposed to have been delivered.

Motshekga said some of the service providers were "clearly hell-bent on embarrassing the ministry".

According to media reports on Sunday, Motshekga could face the axe over the bungled textbook delivery.

Preventing corruption
Earlier on Monday, the Democratic Alliance marched on the offices of the Limpopo basic education department in protest against the late delivery of textbooks. The party demanded that textbooks for 2013 be delivered to schools no later than November 30 2012.

A database of approved textbook suppliers, with an automated quote-sourcing system, needed to be created to prevent corruption.

"These demands are not unreasonable. In fact, the DA successfully does every single one of these things where we govern," DA Limpopo education spokesperson Desiree van der Walt said.

"We challenge the ANC-governed Limpopo to provide the same level of service to learners and schools."

ANC parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the DA's march was "opportunistic and unhelpful".

"It is regrettable that, while various stakeholders have joined hands in an effort to urgently normalise that province's education situation, the main opposition sees the situation as a great opportunity to score few political points."

He said the DA was reportedly closing down 27 "under-performing" schools in the Western Cape to "doctor" the province's matric pass rate.

The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) said on Monday that Motshekga had also not addressed the lack of textbooks in the Eastern Cape.

"We support the approach of a positive engagement with civil society to resolve the failure to deliver the textbooks in Limpopo and all needed educational materials," LRC Grahamstown director Sarah Sephton said in a statement.

"We therefore fail to understand the ... continued lack of responsiveness to us with regard to critical shortages of workbooks in the Eastern Cape," she said. – Sapa

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