ANC: Government to blame for late Limpopo textbooks

"The NEC … considered the lack of delivery of books in Limpopo as shocking and unacceptable and believes that whosoever is found to be responsible must face stern action that may include criminal charges," ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg on Monday.

"The NEC acknowledged that this is a serious failure on the part of government and the department of education in particular at both national and provincial level."

He said the NEC discussed the textbook saga during its lekgotla last week. All task teams investigating the saga needed to reconcile their reports to a presidential task team.

"That final report should be the basis for any action to be taken, including action against any person found guilty of any misdemeanour."

Many organisations and people, including the ANC Youth League and the Congress of South African Trade Unions, hold Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga responsible for the saga and have called for her axing.

The NEC proposed that the national treasury work directly with the department of basic education, so that complaints about the non-availability of resources could not be used as an excuse for late delivery.

"Let us emphasise that throwing money at the problem [must] be avoided. We must do things correctly, efficiently, and effectively," said Mantashe.

It had also agreed that the national department needed to take full responsibility for buying textbooks for next year.

A report by former education director general Mary Metcalfe was compiled in response to the department's assertion that 98% of textbooks were delivered to Limpopo pupils after schools were without books for seven months.

It found that despite the extended date for delivery of textbooks – June 27 – the department's assertion that 98% of the books were delivered was incorrect.

Mantashe said the lekgotla also discussed a report by auditor general Terence Nombembe on the poor performance of municipalities.

"There is a synergy between the AG's report and our own report that was done by our own monitoring and evaluation unit," Mantashe said.

"The ANC acknowledges that many of the problems at local government level have to do with political tensions within the ANC and the alliance."

He said the ANC would ensure that "no single member of the organisation uses a public office as a tool to lobby for power and as a consequence fails to deliver".

The report revealed that only 5% of municipalities received clean audits and that none of the metros received clean audits.

"The NEC … will hold a one day meeting near the end of August to discuss its own findings on the state of local government, as well as the AG's report," Mantashe said.

The lekgotla also decided the focus on tenders as a procurement method needed to be lessened since it was inextricably linked to corruption.

"There was a feeling in the NEC that over-dependence on tenders is killing the capacity of the state. We think that it is one area that actually creates an opportunity for corruption," Mantashe said.

"Therefore, there must be a reduction on the… dependence on tenders. The state should do what must be done by the state, maybe on mega-projects you can outsource to the private sector."

He said the state needed to procure directly from manufacturers and minimise its dependence on "middlemen".

The lekgotla also proposed that one indigenous African language, including Afrikaans, be compulsory in schools, depending on the region.

"If you go to the Northern Cape and the Western Cape by and large, everybody speaks Afrikaans as a first language, so it is an indigenous language," Mantashe said. – Sapa

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