Eastern Cape under fire for spending R400 million on tablets for matrics

The Eastern Cape Education Department will spend over R400 million on leasing tablets for the province’s Grade 12 pupils over three years.

This was revealed by the department’s superintendent-general Themba Kojana during a presentation to a meeting of Parliament’s portfolio committee on education on 16 July 2020.

The department has entered into a contract with Sizwe IT Group to provide 55,000 tablets and related products over a 36-month period as part of the province’s e-learning initiative.

The contract amount – which was initially indicated as R160 million –  has ballooned to R404.8 million. Kojana did not state the reasons for the contract increasing over twice its original value.

During a presentation titled “ICT Investment in Schools”, Kojana provided a breakdown of the costs of the contract as follows:

DA calls for investigation

The Democratic Alliance has said it will ask the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to investigate the contract.

DA MP Yusuf Cassim explained that there were significant discrepancies in the costs quoted for the devices on the contract, compared to retail prices on the open market.

“The unit cost quoted for a Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8-inch tablet is given as R5,396.40. The same tablet sells for R3,279 on Takealot,” Cassim said.

“Based on this value, the department would save R2,115.40 per tablet, which translated to in excess of R116 million savings on the tablets alone, if they purchased them on the open market,” Cassim.

“In procuring the tablets themselves, the Department would also actually own the asset, and not have to give them back after three years,” Cassim added.

In a response to Cassim’s questions over the contract, the Eastern Cape Education Department claimed the market price of a Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8-inch was R6,743.

“As a result of the partnership with Sizwe IT Group, the Department received a 20% discount on the purchase price,” it stated.

Cassim confirmed to MyBroadband that the DA will lodge a complaint against Kojana and the MEC for Education Fundile Gade with the Public Protector on Tuesday 21 July.

Now read: Government enters discussions over whether schools should remain open

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