2023-24 Budget Debates
Department of Education – Vote 5 Budget
Thursday 20 April 2023 – Pietermaritzburg
Hon. Mntomuhle B Khawula – IFP
The IFP is concerned that the long-time financial woes of this Department have followed it into the 2023/24 Financial Year. From the reports of the Department, the Budget has increased by R3.156 498 billion, from R57 480 788 billion in 2022/23, to R60 637 286 billion in 2023/24.
However, this increase will not help ease the spending pressures of the Department to the required levels. We must bear in mind that in 2022/23, the adjusted appropriation of the Department was already standing at R60 429 309. The question that as people of KwaZulu Natal we must contend with is, why is this happening? Where is the problem in this saga? Is it with National Treasury, or Provincial Treasury? Is it with Basic Education at national, or with the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department?
Already, on 30 March 2023, during the 2022/23 Financial Year, the Second Adjustment Appropriation Bill 2023 allocated an additional R240 925 million, to education to ease their 2022/23 spending pressures. The same situation pertained to the 2021/22 Financial Year, where Education received a handout of around R700 million to assist with their spending pressures, which were projected to be approaching a huge over-spend. Surely, this ‘handout’ kind of operation to Education by Provincial Treasury towards the end of each financial year is not a healthy arrangement. It amounts to poor planning and uncertainties in programmes.
We are told that during this financial and academic year, the Department will not be able to employ and fund the required 5 151 posts in the approved structure of the Department.
In this case, who will suffer?
Is it the educators already in schools who will carry a much greater load than they are supposed to carry? Is it the learners who will suffer poor quality education because educators and schools are overloaded? Is it the parents who will have to foot the extra bill from their pockets to employ the required number of educators?
In all these questions, the IFP has always maintained that quality education in South Africa has become a privilege in this post-apartheid era. For those who can afford it, quality education is a reality because they have means. For the poorest of the poor, who unfortunately are the African previously disadvantaged majority, quality education is pie-in-the-sky because of their inability to afford extra funding. It will remain so until the uncaring, arrogant government in power is removed and replaced by a government that will prioritise the real needs of the people.
Just last week, on 12 March as schools were re-opening after the first quarter, ten-day school holiday, the supplier who was supposed to deliver stock to schools failed to supply. We hear stories that this was due to a transition of the tender. But this issue raises eyebrows and serious questions, Hon. MEC. The motto of one of your alliance partners is that ‘people shall share’. The IFP also subscribes to the principle of sharing the wealth and resources of the country as much as possible, so that government resources can reach as many people as they possibly can.
In this instance, we hear that the Department awarded the NSNP tender in the province to just one tenderpreneur called ‘Sandile Zungu’. We are perturbed, MEC. Why would the government of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal decide to disadvantage so many suppliers who were benefitting from this work and decide to allocate it to one supposed multi-millionaire tenderer called Sandile Zungu? Just yesterday, the said Zungu was in the race to become the ANC Provincial Chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal, and he failed. Today he is resurfacing with a R2 billion tender from the KwaZulu-Natal ANC government, just on the eve of the national and provincial elections in 2024.
Inkukhu iyawusola umgqakazo. We smell a big rat here. This is obviously a scheme to fund the ANC campaign in the province through government money, using Mr Sandile Zungu as a front. You can fool some people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. Kuyoniqoqa ukuhlwa. Whilst doing all these tricks, you leave the two million plus children starving for the whole week at schools.
The IFP congratulates the KZN matric class of 2022, the Hon. MEC, the educators, parents, and all the education stakeholders for the improvement. However, we also call on the Department to begin to seriously focus on improving the quality of the results – not just the grade 12 results, but across the board. When the new government in the country established what was then FET Colleges, which is today called TVET Colleges, the idea was to assist the matriculants who would not be absorbed by universities because of low marks. The reality of the situation today is that even TVET Colleges will begin by prioritising bachelor passes who have not made it to university before considering diploma passes. Indaba ke yama certificate passes ayiphathwa nokuphathwa. This approach defeats the purpose of the establishment of the TVET Colleges and MECs must engage with the Higher Education Minister on this irregularity.
One has noted that KwaZulu-Natal Education continues to under-pay schools on the norms and standards. Instead of a national norm of R1 602 per learner in Quintiles 1, 2 and 3, the province pays only R955 per leaner. Instead of a national norm of R803 per learner in Quintile 4, the province pays only R522 per learner. Instead of a national norm of R277 per learner in Quintile 5, the province pays only R179 per learner. Hayi okwamanje sithule siyabuka.