The DA is shocked to learn that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s SONA promise on school infrastructure has already been broken.

It is utterly disappointing that, instead of completing outstanding Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) projects next year, they will only be completed in 2021.

The further delay of this project, which is aimed to replace mud schools and other inappropriate education structures, and restore the dignity of learners and teachers, is an insult to children who are relegated to inferior conditions of learning by the ANC government.

This clearly shows how detached the ANC government has been from the plight of our children, especially those in impoverished and rural communities.

President Ramaphosa stated during his SONA speech that they will “complete all outstanding projects by the end of the next financial year”.

However, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has now said that what he meant to say, was that just the basic services projects will be finished next year and not the school construction. The DBE spokesperson was quoted in media saying: “The distinction may have been lost in the final speech edit.” The school construction will only be completed in 2021.

But even if it is a just a promise for the service commitment, we have absolutely no confidence in the capacity of the ANC government to deliver – given their recent abysmal track record.

ASIDI has performed appallingly in the past year – according to the DBE annual report for 2016/17, they missed all their targets by a shocking margin:

  • Schools to be built: target 59, achieved 16;
  • Schools provided with sanitation: target 265, achieved 9;
  • Schools connected to water: target 280, achieved 10; and
  • Schools connected to electricity: target 620, achieved ZERO.

The DBE was full of excuses when they presented to SCOPA last week, saying it was just completion certificates outstanding. This cannot be allowed to stand. How could they have failed to secure certificates for so many years? And the DBE has admitted in a Parliamentary reply to the DA that the performance is due to “non-performing contractors and Implementing Agents (IAs)”.

The DA will now write to the Chairperson of the Basic Education Portfolio Committee, Nomalungelo Gina, to urgently request a comprehensive list of all planned and current ASIDI projects, stating when they started, who the contractor is, the cost, what the reason for the delay is and what the department is doing to fix the problem.