City of Ekurhuleni’s ill directed R100 Million investment

City of Ekurhuleni’s ill directed R100 Million investment

I remember back in the day when Mondli Gungubele introduced a R10 Million bursary scheme for top matric performers to go to university. Although not as jaw dropping as the R100 Million introduced by current mayor of Ekurhuleni, Cllr Mzwandile Masina; the bursary fund somehow made sense and was easily acceptable to be a fair investment in offering a helping hand towards tertiary education.

While the public is awed and in certain areas impressed by the size of the investment, there are questions that need to be asked, especially considering that the R100 million comes out of the City of Ekurhuleni budget and not the mayor’s personal budget, (not that he could have such funds).

The first question worth asking is, from which priorities has the R90 Million being diverted from to have increased the bursary scheme from R10 Million to R100 Million? Has anyone heard how the city has been able to increase the bursary investment by R90 Million or are we too flabbergasted to even question how the extra investment came to be?

These are the two questions which need to be answered and honestly so. That is if we can expect such from politicians. In my view, something is a big miss and Masina needs to explain exactly how the city is able to invest R100 million into a bursary scheme. We cannot merely accept that is what the city is investing towards helping young people have access to education.

If we accept that without any level of skepticism, chances are that the City of Ekurhuleni could be getting away with a heist right before our eyes. For me, the investment is nothing more than a publicity stunt aimed at making it look like the city is adding value towards education. While by in large that may be true, I am afraid that the municipality’s investment through this bursary scheme may appear to be a little exaggerated and at a cost to the city’s core service delivery mandate.

In this case, the service delivery mandate does not refer to the provision of water and electricity, but rather the operations of libraries. The reality is that, the City of Ekurhuleni libraries have outdated study material in large; which means the city is ignoring its core responsibility in search of some publicity stunt.

It is worth questioning a number of factors regarding the R100 Million bursary scheme; the first being the number of students allocated the bursary and how many of them are on a full bursary? We should also be asking how much does the city set aside to look after libraries? These are the questions which in my view should help us scrutinise the actual impact of the bursary scheme.

Having done a quick calculation, if the bursary were to be spent on an average of R75 000 per child, the city would need to be funding at least 1 300 learners. That is if the entire R100 Million is used for the intended purpose. I doubt the city is funding this many learners and the public should be given an explanation as to exactly what is happening with the money.

The second question is around the issue of making sure that libraries are well capacitated. As it stands, I understand that part of the budget for libraries is from province; so why then not supplement this budget with part of the investment the city is making in education. When going into any of the City of Ekurhuleni libraries, while most are able to have new books, the question should be around the relevance of the study guides. The study guides are outdated and serve no effective purpose for a learner today.

Basically, while the city has set aside the R100 Million towards education, is it really complementing the core responsibility of local government? In my view, the answer is no. Had the City of Ekurhuleni been very effective in its core responsibility, I would have no issues whatsoever with the budget set aside for the bursary scheme. However; as it stands, it is self-defeating and in-effective.

Maybe the executive mayor of Ekurhuleni should return to the basics of service delivery in the city and make sure that libraries are able to effectively help any student in the city. Until that is done this bursary scheme would remain a wasted publicity stunt.