Slow infrastructure expenditure puts damper on education promises: DA

OCTOBER 4, 2016

Slow spending by the Eastern Cape Department of Education puts a big damper on the announcement by Premier Phumulo Masualle last week that R1.7 billion was "set aside" for the construction of 44 schools, including some that suffered damage due to natural disasters in recent years, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Tuesday.

"The department had only spent 11% of its infrastructure budget in the first quarter of the 2016/17 financial year (1 April 2016 to 30 June 2016)," described Edmund van Vuuren, the DA's Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Education.

He said that the department’s performance report on the first quarter tells a sad, deflated story:

  • Only seven schools out of an annual target of 178 have been provided with water;
  • Only five schools out of an annual target of 103 have been supplied with electricity;
  • Only nine schools out of an annual target of 259 have been provided with sanitation facilities;
  • Only 39 classrooms out of an annual target of 543 have been built;
  • Only 18 specialist rooms have been built out of an annual target of 109;
  • Only five new schools have been completed out of an annual target f 31;
  • Only 19 new schools are under construction out of an annual target of 34;
  • Only 12 Grade R classrooms have been built out of an annual target of 93; and
  • No hostels out of an annual target of three have been built.

"Of further concern is the failure by the department to budget for a contractual commitment to Vodacom for internet connectivity.

"Surely, functional communication between the department, district offices and schools is a basic requirement? Instead, the department faces the prospect of litigation if it cannot pay its bill of R3.9 million. In the previous financial year, the department did not budget for Information and Communication Technology either, and ended up with a shortfall of R31,766 million," said van Vuuren.

"The DA’s vision in the Eastern Cape is for quality education that prepares learners for work in a fast-changing global economy. To achieve this, we need innovative, forward thinking. Instead, we a limping along with a dysfunctional department where 90% of the annual budget goes to the top-heavy bureaucracy."