REFUSAL OF WESTERN CAPE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT TO RELEASE AUDIT REPORT TO SCOPA
When a learner in the Western Cape gets on a bus contracted by the Education Department to take them to school, are they safe, will they arrive at school that day?
On 24 August there was a horrific bus accident near Rheenendal, Knysna, in which 14 children and the driver lost their lives. The provincial government immediately blamed a roadworthy testing station and illegally closed it down.
Never in the outpouring of grief on this issue, has the provincial government made public that it was sitting on a report that says that the provincial education department was not fulfilling the terms of its contracts with the providers of learner transport, including the provider in Rheenedal. Clearly this is a matter of intense public interest.
In the same week where DA leader Helen Zille has made strident speeches about the Protection of State Information Bill and the public interest, her government defies the provincial parliament and a Scopa resolution by refusing to make the audit report to available to Scopa.
Even worse the chairperson, hon Pauline Cupido together with the DA members of Scopa, refused to stand by their own resolution and succumbed to political pressure from their DA bosses by allowing the the department to make a presentation on the report, without even giving a copy of the presentation, let alone the full report, to Scopa.
In refusing to defend the unanimous resolution of her committee, hon Cupido showed that she does not have qualities required to perform parliamentary oversight without fear or favour. Instead she kowtows to the DA executive, knowing that her position as chairperson depends on the DA. Truly the DA and ACDP in Scopa have deserted the principles of parliamentary oversight by refusing to hold the executive accountable.
The ANC will ensure that this report is made public. We will continue to pressurise Scopa to fulfil its constitutional role as a public watchdog. We are considering also making a Promotion of Access to Information Act request to order the department to release the report. We will not rest until parents are assured that their children are safe in the hands of contractors of the WCED.
Statement issued by Max Ozinsky, ANC Spokesperson on Scopa, Western Cape Provincial Parliament, December 1 2011
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