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IRR wants public protector to probe 'maladministration' in Gauteng schools

06 November 2019 - 17:30 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
MEC Panyaza Lesufi and the Gauteng education department will be investigated by the public protector, if the IRR gets its way.
MEC Panyaza Lesufi and the Gauteng education department will be investigated by the public protector, if the IRR gets its way.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has approached the office of the public protector to investigate allegations of maladministration in the Gauteng education department.

“The IRR team, led by campaigns co-ordinator Hermann Pretorius, handed over its complaint to the public protector at the institution’s offices in Johannesburg,” said the organisation in a statement issued on Wednesday.

The institute said it wanted the public protector to look into three elements as part of the investigation.

“The first relates to the launch of a website aimed at providing access to 'new online curriculum lessons'. The quality of the website, which ostensibly took six years to develop, has been questioned. An analysis of the website by members of the public found several shortcomings, indicating substandard development and creating a strong suspicion of inefficient expenditure and maladministration of resources,” it said.

The IRR said it was also concerned about maladministration relating to the alleged R1.2bn of irregular expenditure by MEC Panyaza Lesufi’s office.

"MEC Lesufi sought to explain reports on this vast amount by posting photographs of what seem to be governmental expenditure reports, but these photographs are astoundingly insufficient in explaining away the complexities of this matter of irregular expenditure," said the institute.

“Citizens deserve a thorough investigation into the allegations of irregular expenditure by the Gauteng department of education - even if Mr Lesufi is right in his laid-back defence that the more accurate figure of his department’s irregular expenditure in 2018/2019 was in the hundreds of millions of rands and not over a billion.” 

The IRR also wants public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to look into the department’s placement system, which it says has been functioning “inadequately” since its inception in 2016.

“The IRR is concerned that the continued maladministration of education in Gauteng, South Africa’s richest province and the heart of the country’s economy, will severely affect the life chances of the province’s children,” it added.