MEC Chiloane must act against irregular expenditure and ensure that money is spent on fixing school infrastructure

The Gauteng school’s infrastructure is old and deteriorating, and the environment in which learning and teaching take place is not conducive, yet the department has incurred irregular expenditure amounting to R811 842 000 in the 2021/22 financial year.

The DA is demanding that the newly appointed Gauteng Department of Education MEC Matome Chiloane, must take action against officials who incurred irregular expenditures in the 2021/22 financial year.

The Auditor General has indicated the following on the department’s annual report for the 2021/22 financial year: “Effective and appropriate steps were not taken to prevent irregular expenditure amounting to R811 842 000, as is disclosed in note 23.1 and 23.2 to the annual financial statements as required by PFMA and Treasury Regulations. The majority of irregular expenditure was caused by prior year non-compliance regarding procurement and contract management.”

It is concerning that Programme 7, which focuses on examinations and education-related services, has incurred R772.2 million in irregular expenditure while this programme also underspent its allocated budget by R123 million. This money could have been adjusted and moved to other programmes through virement.

The DA proposes that the department allocate more budget to fund school infrastructure as many schools are ageing and dilapidated, and the mobile classrooms are damaged. The department should also prioritise the eradication of asbestos and mobile schools and replace them with brick-and-mortar structures to ensure that teaching and learning take place in a conducive environment.

The DA is also challenging MEC Chiloane to take decisive actions against officials implicated in irregular expenditure as outlined by the Auditor General’s findings. There are many ongoing forensic investigations into alleged financial irregularities, financial misconduct, and fraud within the department. This can only stop when the political head is committed to fighting corruption and sending a strong message that he will protect the public purse.