How to waste R 990 218 on one workshop – Gavin Davis

DA MP says there was no need for parliament's education committee to hold this workshop out of term, or at a fancy hotel



Tuesday 6 September 2016

Engagement with Department of Basic Education in Cape Town (ATC, 26 May 2016, p 79)

Honourable Speaker

I would like to state our strong objection to this report, and the workshop that occasioned it.

The workshop took place at the Lord Charles Somerset Hotel in Cape Town from the 22-24 March.

It was billed as a “Strategic Planning Workshop”, although it was not strategic, it wasn’t very well planned and it was more of a talk shop than a workshop.

But the real problem was the cost. And it was on the basis of cost that the DA objected to the workshop and boycotted it.

This workshop – from which there were no concrete and discernible outcomes – came in at an estimated cost of R 990 218.40. That’s just short of one million rand for a committee workshop.

Honourable Speaker

This exorbitant expenditure could have and should have been avoided.

If the DA had been consulted on the format, content and costs of the workshop we would have pushed for it to be held in Parliament in the normal course of parliamentary business.

Instead, in their infinite wisdom, the ANC members of the Committee unilaterally decided to hold the workshop outside the parliamentary term, in Cape Town, at a fancy hotel.

R 85 099.28 was budgeted for flights, which included the Portfolio Committee Chairperson’s business class ticket.

We believe this expenditure on flights was unnecessary since Members already have 86 flights allocated to them per annum, which could have been utilised for this purpose.

R 55 000 was budgeted for accommodation for 10 Members at the Hotel (including dinner and breakfast).

R 10 000 was budgeted for Members’ subsistence and travel (S&T) allowance.

R 6 000 was budgeted for Members to be chauffeur-driven to and from the airport.

The travel and accommodation costs of the 50 officials invited to the workshop – at an estimated R 800 000 – were an additional cause for concern.

Honourable Speaker

In his Budget Speech on 24 February, Minister Pravin Gordhan emphasised the need for us, as custodians of public money, to “manage our finances in a prudent and sustainable way.”

It is abundantly clear that R 1 million could have been better spent on textbooks, desks and school infrastructure than on a workshop which – even it if were necessary – could have been held in Parliament instead of at a fancy hotel.

The DA cannot, in all good conscience, support this questionable use of public money.

We therefore object to this report.

I thank you.

Issued by the DA, 6 September 2016