AllAfrica.com

July 15th, 2012

PRESS RELEASE

According to reports today, the ANC‘s former parliamentary Chief Whip signed a “blank cheque” contract with EduSolutions, the company at the centre of the Limpopo textbooks crisis, to do business with the ANC in Parliament.

This is the latest in a series of reports which raise serious questions about the links between EduSolutions and the ANC and whether it was the company’s political connections that led to it receiving a number of state contracts.

I will be writing to the Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, to request that the relationship between the ANC and EduSolutions is subjected to a full investigation.

Numerous links have been reported to exist between EduSolutions and the ANC.

These include:

African Access Holdings, the holding company of EduSolutions, is a key donor to Zuma’s RDP Education Trust

EduSolutions founder and CEO Shaun Battlemann has links to President Zuma as a “champion” of his education trust, Mr Battleman also reportedly has links to Professor John Volmink, a former top advisor to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, and former ANC Chief Whip Mbulelo Goniwe, who was reportedly responsible for signing off on EduSolutions’ “blank cheque” contract to do business with the ANC in Parliament.

Brand Talk, a fellow subsidiary of African Access Holdings, was one of the companies implicated in the reported irregular awarding of communications tenders during the tenure of former ANC Premier of the Western Cape, Ebrahim Rasool.

Numerous concerns have been raised about the awarding of the Limpopo textbook contract to EduSolutions, and whether the proper processes were circumvented because of the company’s reported political links.

Problems with the awarding of the tender include:

Allegations that 22 of the 23 tender bids that were received for the Limpopo textbooks deal were disqualified- without any explanation. This left EduSolutions as the sole remaining bidder

A legal opinion, commissioned by the Department of Basic Education and provided to the State on 17 January 2012, stated that complaints of irregularities regarding the awarding of the Limpopo textbooks tender were swept under the carpet, and that it would be “irresponsible for the National Government to continue to give effect to the contract without a proper investigation of the complaints”. However, the opinion was ignored.

The same legal opinion declared that the contract with EduSolutions is “probably invalid” for not complying with Section 217 of the Constitution, the Public Finance Management Act and the Treasury. However, the former Limpopo education administrator, Anis Karodia, was actively obstructed from implementing the legal opinion’s recommendations.

There are still too many unanswered questions regarding the awarding of the EduSolutions tender, and the company’s reported political links.

The Public Protector must investigate whether it is political patronage, rather than the needs of our learners, that dictated the awarding of this tender.

Annette Lovemore, Shadow Minister of Basic Education