/ 16 November 2017

Equal Education must get its facts straight


We write in response to the article “Equalisers fight for schools not built” (November 3).

Between 2006 and 2014, the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) has seen the successful completion of well over 90% of school projects allocated to it by the department of education in the Eastern Cape.

The CDC has made serious inroads into addressing the schools infrastructure backlog in the province. It has remained one of the top-performing implementing agents out of many that are contracted to the department. To date the CDC has successfully managed to complete well over 500 projects since 2006.

On the backdrop of the slow approval rate of project scope and budget by the department, the 900 schools mentioned in the article havebecome 750 that have moved forward with construction.

The CDC’s participation in providing infrastructure to schools such as Lumko High School, Sea Vista Primary School, AV Bukani Primary School, Mzingisi Primary School, Isikhoba Nombewu Technical High School and Gxwalubomvu Junior Secondary School have been nothing short of a miracle when compared with before the CDC became involved.

In the financial year 2014-2015 the CDC was allocated 110 sanitation projects and has successfully completed 103. In the next year the CDC was allocated 159 school fencing projects and successfully completed 120 of the projects — with the remainder transferred to the following year because of budget constraints.

In the financial year 2016-2017 the CDC was allocated 108 temporary classrooms and successfully completed 75. Again, the remainder were transferred to the following year.

The CDC would like to challenge Equal Education to substantiate its assertion that: “The latest auditor general’s Public Financial Management Act report revealed that Coega’s procurement processes were uncompetitive or unfair.” The CDC is not aware of this.

The CDC would like to put on record that the organisation, as a state-owned entity, is audited by the auditor general. Since its inception the CDC has consistently received an unqualified audit opinion.

The article’s unsubstantiated information is best described as an attack on the CDC’s integrity.

Before any bid is awarded, those who submitted bids for that specific tender are afforded an opportunity to appeal. The CDC encourages bidders to seek clarity to improve their competitiveness.

Anyone, including Equal Education, who is genuinely interested in receiving information on bids is encouraged to send an email to [email protected].

Equal Education has been economical with the truth. Implementing agent management fees are prescribed by national and provincial treasury, and payments are made on the basis of department verification of deliverables from the CDC.

In accordance with the treasury, the department does not advance funds to the CDC for implementation or management fees.

The two projects identified by Equal Education — Vukile Tshwete Senior Secondary School and Hector Peterson High School — both have implementation plans with milestone timelines. Project steering committees, which include the education department, members of the school governing body and the school principals, are established to support the CDC.

Prior to the construction stage, department officials participate in planning to ensure the project scope, cost and quality align with standards and the department’s strategic priorities.

Vukile Tshwete fencing and new site is complete, with construction to commence early in 2018. The Hector Peterson fencing site has been practically completed, with construction to commence in early 2018.

The CDC is left to defend itself from spurious allegations. It would be beneficial for Equal Education to substantiate its claims.

The CDC would like to put on record that an independent report on the functionality and effectiveness of the board was commissioned by the Eastern Cape provincial government, with Deloitte appointed to undertake the assessment.

The report found that the CDC board is highly effective.