DBE responds to "Angie knew" report in The Star

Dept says procurement of textbooks a provincial responsibility, not a national one

Minister Motshekga responds to The Star/Pretoria News article published on 26 July 2012

26 Jul 2012

Your sensational lead article in The Star and the Pretoria News, "Angie messes up" and "Angie knew of textbook dilemma", 26 July 2012, misleadingly creates the impression that Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, has the authority to procure on behalf of a provincial Department of Education (see report). 

Even if the Minister was aware of the challenges related to the procurement of textbooks in Limpopo, she did not have the authority to effect procurement in the province due to the provisions in the South African Schools Act (SASA) and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). In terms of the Constitution, basic education is a concurrent function.

This means the national Department of Basic Education is responsible for the development of national policy whilst the province implements national policy, manages schools and provides the inputs necessary to support learning and teaching. The provincial Head of Department, who is also the Accounting Officer of the Limpopo Department of Education, is responsible for financial management, including procurement in the province. The Minister, as the Executive Authority, is not responsible for any decisions on matters of procurement.

Therefore, even if the Minister was aware of the challenges relating to the procurement of textbooks in the province, the Minister could not procure on behalf of the province. It must also be emphasised that the Minister only assumed the Executive Authority for the Limpopo Department of Education in December 2011, and not in July 2011. 

Under normal circumstances, funding to provincial departments is allocated to the provinces by National Treasury. By December 2011 it became clear to the national government that the Limpopo Province was in serious financial difficulty, prompting cabinet to place five provincial departments under administration in terms of Section 100 (1) (b) of the Constitution. 

The major problem in the Limpopo Department of Education was that it did not have sufficient funding to finalise procurement of textbooks for the 2012 academic year. In accordance with the Presidential Minute which formalised the Section 100(1) (b) intervention in Limpopo, the provincial government remained responsible for the funding of the Provincial Departments during the period of the intervention. 

Your article implies that it was within the powers of the Minister to procure on behalf of the province. This is mischievous and sensationalist reporting of the worst kind. Such irresponsible claims, fuelled by faceless individuals with suspect agendas, will not go unchallenged.

Why is it that the journalist did not question the motives of his source in this instance? Also, let's not confuse the profit motive of the Publishers Association of South Africa (PASA's), with genuine interest in education. A suggestion that the department was not aware of the financial crisis in Limpopo education by December 2011 is simply outrageous. 

Statement issued by Hope Mokgatlhe, Ministerial Spokesperson, Department of Basic Education, July 26 2012

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