The Covid-19 pandemic has had its fair share of scandals. The Gauteng Department of Education, not wanting to be left behind, splashed a whopping R431 000 000.00 in just 90 days from June to August 2020. The money was spent on decontamination, disinfection and sanitising of classrooms and administration buildings in the Province to combat the spread of covid-19. The MEC for Education in Gauteng, Mr Panyaza Lesufi, said that he was dismayed to hear about this extravaganza happening in his backyard and has called for a probe into how the money was spent. He said that he was engaging with the Auditor-General to see if there was any value received for the amount spent.
Teacher unions are also up in arms about this shocking expenditure and have demanded accountability for those responsible. They estimate that with Gauteng having about 2800 schools, it means that just over R153 000.00 was allocated to each school. But News24 reported that a total of 2 207 schools and 38 administration buildings were disinfected. The average amount spent per school was the sum of R250 000.00.
The DA has called on Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, to initiate the investigation and to ascertain how many schools were sanitised as Bidvest had also been involved in sanitising some Gauteng schools for free. This donation by Bidvest to provide sanitisers to about 577 schools was criticised by small businesses at the time as they said that it undermined their efforts to empower small and medium enterprises. The party has said that Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, should be held accountable for this expenditure.
These revelations come at a time when the country is involved in a difficult struggle to acquire covid-19 vaccines and needs every little cent to acquire these life saving medications. The cost for each of the two doses is estimated at between $3 and $37 with Moderna being the highest and AstraZeneca being the cheapest and Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Sputnik and Novavax in between. China has said that it will offer its vaccine to the World at a fair and reasonable price.
Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, has already sworn to fight corruption in the province and it remains to be seen whether he will put action to his words in this instance.