I'll quit if found to have benefited in R431m wasted in fighting Covid-19 at schools - Lesufi

Yoliswa Sobuwa Journalist
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi
Image: Vathiswa Ruselo/Sowetan

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has indicated that he is willing to step aside immediately if found to have failed in his oversight duties or benefitted from the wasteful and fruitless use of taxpayers' money.

This was after One South Africa movement (OSA) leader Mmusi Maimane publicly challenged Lesufi to respond to 12 questions regarding the R431m that was spent by his department for decontamination and deep cleaning of schools.

On Tuesday, Lesufi announced that he was going to probe the millions of rand that were used to fight Covid-19 at Gauteng schools after it was revealed in a  report  compiled by the head of department and chief financial officer on decontamination, deep cleaning and sanitisation that the department spent more than R431m.

Some of the questions posted on Twitter on Thursday by Maimane were: When did the MEC became aware of the wasteful expenditure on these sanitisation programmes? Which officials were directly responsible for approving the budget? What connections do these companies and individual have to government officials in the department? What role did Lesufi have in the approval and oversight of the classroom sanitisation and if he was prepared to step aside if found to have failed to execute his oversight duties.

They were posted on Twitter and Lesufi immediately responded, indicating that he was a public representative who will never shy away from responding to matters regarding his portfolio.

 “I have since written to the Special Investigative Unit and the Auditor-General to investigate exactly as to whether due process was followed. I have also asked the Integrity Office in premier David Makhura’s office to investigate this aspect and at the moment I don’t know any single individual through family, friendship or politically who benefitted out of this,” Lesufi said.

Maimane said OSA was alarmed by the reports indicating that an amount of R431m was recklessly wasted on deep sanitisation of unused classrooms by Gauteng education department.

“This money should rightly have been used to fix broken toilets, eradicate pit toilets and provide running water to all schools. We call upon MEC Lesufi to publicly provide answers to these questions in the next 24 hours, and failure to do so will indicate an unwillingness to account to the public and will lead OSA pursuing access to this information through Public Access to Information,” Maimane said.

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