The Eastern Cape transport MEC and the national executive member of ANC Women’s League, Weziwe Tikana has been caught in the web of an alleged R4.5 million purchase of “smartpens”.
Weziwe Tikana found herself at the centre of high-tech purchase controversy which took place while Tikana was an official at the province’s cooperative governance and traditional affairs department.
This was revealed to the members of the provincial legislature’s standing committee on public accounts on Monday, by the transport department acting head Ngaka Mosehana.
According to the report, Weziwe Tikana requested procurement of smartpens for community development workers to use in relaying information in a flash from families needing social grants or housing to the department’s database.
The Smartpens were however never used neither were they given to the workers. The 320 pens are still piled up at the department’s head office in Bisho.
The pens have tiny infrared cameras and Bluetooth wireless technology to convert handwritten information into digital data. They can also take pictures.
The R4.5m high-tech purchase included an annual subscription fee of R766,080 to be paid for three years and a monthly Vodacom airtime bill of R76,000 to be paid for three years.
The department signed a 36-month contract with a private company from March 2013 to provide and maintain these pens.
Ngaka Mosehana claimed the purchase of the smartpens was the subject of a forensic investigation expected to be completed by December
The case is being investigated alongside the spending of R109, 000 on printing digital forms without following procurement processes. The auditor-general has found this spending to be fruitless and wasteful by the auditor-general.
Related to this, the DA accused the Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga of capturing the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit, (NEEDU).
The party, which claimed to be in possession of an email authored by the Acting CEO of the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit, Dr. Sibusiso Sithole, said Dr. Sithole’s email to NEEDU staff contained a directive from Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to curtail NEEDU’s independence.
“The directive is in contravention of NEEDU’s mandate, stated on its website as: “…an evaluation and development institution which is independent of that part of the civil service responsible for the administration of schools.” DA’s shadow finance minister, David Maynier noted.
The DA, therefore, called on Minister Motshekga to clarify her position on the independence of NEEDU. In particular, she must explain why she instructed the Acting CEO of NEEDU to bring the unit “closer” to the Department; why she shelved the NEEDU Bill that would have guaranteed NEEDU’s independence in law; and why there is a prolonged delay in the release of the 2014 NEEDU report.