Angie's woes mount
Pressure is mounting on President Jacob Zuma to act and fix the textbook fiasco that has left thousands of pupils without all their learning material halfway through the school year.
Advocacy group Equal Education has called on Zuma to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry into the debacle as more complaints surfaced this week that several schools in other provinces besides Limpopo have not received their textbooks.
Yesterday, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela announced that she was conducting her own investigation.
Yoliswa Dwane, head researcher at Equal Education, said that though the group had faith in the inter-ministerial investigative team Zuma appointed earlier this month, a judicial inquiry was needed to "unearth all the rot" and bring all the culprits to book.
Pressure is building on the president to take action against a slew of inefficiencies in Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga's department.
The department already faces several court cases - including one brought against her by Equal Education, which wants her to implement a minimum uniform standards policy for the infrastructure required by schools.
In another case, Motshekga's legal team yesterday threw in the towel in a high court application brought by the Centre for Child Law and agreed to fill a large number of vacant teaching positions in Eastern Cape.
As the Limpopo textbook scandal drags on, with several schools still without books, Dwane said pupils at scores of schools across the country were also without textbooks.
The most "notorious" provinces, she said, were Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Eastern Cape.
"I don't think it is only these provinces but they are the most notorious in terms of non-delivery and incapacity."
Madonsela yesterday said that she would launch a three-part investigation into the issue.
She wants to find out if there was maladministration in a case in which textbooks were destroyed by a contractor in Limpopo.
In another case, she will try to establish whether there were schools in the Free State that had not received textbooks.
Reports on Wednesday said that more than 50 schools in the province had still not received all their textbooks, but provincial education spokesman Howard Ndaba said he was not aware of the situation.
Madonsela will also investigate a complaint in Gauteng that the purchase of books for next year has not yet been approved.
"We have also written to the Department of Basic Education and asked them to state what is being done to prevent this from happening again ... and whether it is clear what books should be delivered to whom by what time," Madonsela said.
Motshekga - who visited Limpopo this week to try to find solutions to the textbook problem in the province - also faces a probe by the presidential task team into the textbook fiasco.
And former Higher Education director-general Mary Metcalfe - who was appointed following an agreement by another advocacy group, Section 27, and the department, to investigate the Limpopo textbook problems - also forwarded a critical report to the president.
Motshekga and Limpopo education MEC Dickson Masemola have refused to take responsibility for the textbooks affair and resign .
Zuma has refused to heed calls that he fire Motshekga and all the officials responsible for the mess.
Political analyst Daniel Silke said that when service delivery is compromised Zuma should move from protecting "close allies" and quickly fire all culpable politicians and bureaucrats.
"Unfortunately for us, we have got used to a situation in which presidents continue to protect those closest to them because they are political allies," he said.
Dwane said that though Motshekga should take some responsibility for the textbook woes, her director-general, Bobby Soobrayan, should also be probed because this was the second time that he had been implicated in education scandals.
In 2010, The Times reported that Soobrayan's future mother-in-law, Salama Hendricks, at the time was linked to a R300-million textbooks tender.
Dwane said reports that linked Hendricks to EduSolutions, the politically connected company that was awarded a multimillion-rand contract to distribute textbooks in Limpopo, should not be overlooked.
Mark Heywood, the executive director for Section 27, said textbook shortages in Limpopo were continuing.
"All these learners, except those in former model C schools, are being affected by the failure of the Department of Basic Education to provide learners and teachers with the necessary learning and teaching materials," he said.
Heywood said the textbook shortage might continue into the next school term because the provincial department had spent its book budget for 2012-2013.
He said the textbook saga was initially not the fault of the Basic Education Department but it took responsibility the day it intervened.