Consultants do the work of officials

One department spent R366m in a year on outsourcing

15 October 2017 - 00:02 By PREGA GOVENDER

A former senior government official scored a lucrative R5.1-million contract for one year to help sick teachers apply to be medically boarded.
Anoop Bramdav was among 21 consultants awarded contracts collectively worth R366.8-million by the cash-strapped Eastern Cape education department in the past financial year - despite it having a R42.9-million bank overdraft.Other contracts awarded included:
• A R6.5-million year-long contract to a group of lawyers to act as the department's representative during disciplinary hearings;
• A R2.2-million 12-month contract for a person to be based in the "internal control unit" in the chief financial officer's office;
• A one-year contract for R19-million for the "provision of technical support" to the chief financial officer; and
• A R217-million contract for two years to a consortium of four companies to, among other things, digitise the personnel records of officials, teachers and pupils.
Bramdav's duties, according to a staff member who did not want to be identified, were mainly administrative. "The Eastern Cape education department is the only one to hire a consultant to sort out application forms [for incapacity leave and ill-health retirement]. In other departments, as well as provinces, it's done by HR practitioners who are full-time employees."
The department this week did not respond to detailed questions from the Sunday Times.
The massive consultancy bill has infuriated unions. "You spend R6.5-million hiring lawyers in a province where you still have schools that are mud structures. That is just fruitless expenditure," said National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa provincial CEO Loyiso Mbinda.
He said the R366.8-million spent on consultants could have been used to build 12 schools at R30-million each, and that there was no need to hire lawyers because the department had lawyers in its legal section.Chris Mdingi, South African Democratic Teachers' Union Eastern Cape secretary, said: "They [consultants] are very costly and are milking the department. There is absolutely no transfer of skills from the consultants to departmental employees."
Bramdav, a former human resources director in the Eastern Cape's department of economic development, environmental affairs and tourism, was arrested by the Scorpions in 2000 on charges of fraud and corruption. However, he said this week that the case against him had been dismissed by the Zwelitsha regional court, in the Eastern Cape, in 2006.
He said the service agreement he had signed with the department prevented him from speaking to the media.
Department spokesman Mali Mtima was unable to comment on the expenditure as the relevant managers had been dispatched "all over the province in preparation for the upcoming final exams".
Eastern Cape superintendent-general Themba Kojana did not respond to a media inquiry e-mailed to him.
The province's annual report includes scathing comments by the auditor-general, who found the department had "achieved only 20% of its targets overall, however, 99% of the budget had been spent".

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