DA accuses education SG of perjury
‘Contradicting figures’ given to MPLs on matric tablet leases must be examined in court, says shadow MEC for education
The DA opening a perjury case against Eastern Cape education superintendent-general Themba Kojana will give the provincial government a chance to set the record straight in court regarding the controversial elearning tender.
It will also end the “grandstanding” by the opposition party, which has used the tender as “a political football”.
This was the reaction from provincial education spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani, just hours after DA MPL Yusuf Cassim laid the complaint against Kojana at the Humewood police station in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.
Cassim said Kojana had lied under oath to the Bhisho legislature about the amount provincial taxpayers have forked out for the contract.
The R530m contract for three-year leases of tablets for 55,000 Grade 12 pupils was awarded on April 2 to Gautengbased IT firm Sizwe Africa IT Group, a subsidiary of businessman Iqbal Survé’s Ayo Technology Solutions.
R130m will be used for virtual classes.
The education department bypassed normal tendering processes and piggybacked on an August 2019 economic development, environmental affairs and tourism department tender.
The actual amount of the contract has been a contentious issue. Cassim said Kojana misled the legislature by “providing false information” to MPLs.
Cassim’s affidavit submitted to the police states that Kojana told the education portfolio committee on May 13 they would pay R49m for 72,000 sim cards and 12 broadcasting studios as part of the e-learning contract.
In the same meeting, he said taxpayers would pay R123.7m for 55,000 tablets for Grade 12 pupils.
Cassim charges that in another legislature meeting on July 16, Kojana changed his tune, telling the committee, both verbally and through a report he submitted, that for the broadcasting studios or virtual classrooms, the department would fork out R133.4m and R404.8m for the tablets.
Pulumani said: “We have noted the grandstanding by honourable Cassim on a matter of fundamental importance for the learners of the Eastern Cape, that he has opted to turn into a political football.
“This is unfortunate. The department, though, will not be distracted. We remain focused to the task at hand.
“The department welcomes the opportunity to openly air this matter in a court of law, so that it can finally be put to rest,” he said.
But Cassim, who in July asked public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s office to probe the tender, said the department had entered into “this overpriced contract illegally”.
He said Kojana, by providing the house with such “contradicting figures” well after the contract had been awarded in April, was misleading lawmakers.
“Weeks after the contract had been awarded and accepted by the company on April 6, the SG breached the Evidence and Information Before the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature Act 4 of 2007 by providing false information or falsified documents to the committee in May, thus misleading those who oversee his department.
“These lies were made after the final award letter was given to Sizwe Africa on April 2, which means the final value of the contract should not have changed.
“In terms of the act, the person doing this is committing a criminal offence and is liable to a fine or imprisonment for up to two years, or both,” he said.
The department has previously denied any wrongdoing in the awarding of the tender, and has told the media it is good value for money and the best possible deal they could have obtained.
The legislature’s education portfolio committee is yet to fully scrutinise the controversial contract, with committee chair Mpumelelo Saziwa unavailable for comment on Thursday.
These lies were made after the final award letter was given to Sizwe Africa on April 2