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The Free State Department of Education and the Presidency have described as unfounded and misleading allegations that the former awarded a multimillion-rand contract to Shanduka Foundation to build two schools in the province without going to tender.

In two separate statements released over the weekend, the provincial education department and the Presidency said a story published by The Star newspaper last week claiming criminal charges had been laid against President Cyril Ramaphosa – as a former chairperson of Shanduka Foundation – was misleading and erroneous because the schools were built under a matched funding partnership.

The Presidency went on to say that Shanduka, now called the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, never benefited financially from the project.

“For the record, Shanduka was not awarded any tender by the Free State Department of Education,” read part of the statement issued by provincial education spokesperson Howard Ndaba.

“Our non-profit partnership with Kagiso Shanduka Trust (KST) has played a vital role in our quest . . . to ensure that quality learning and teaching takes place in every classroom, every day,” added the statement.

It said to date, this has been done through the development and implementation of the District Whole School Development (DWSD) programme targeting schools in Fezile Dabi and Motheo districts in the province.

Among the benefits, said the provincial education department, schools that perform above set targets qualify for science laboratories, libraries, computer centres, maths centres, multimedia centres and sports facilities.

“To date, 334 new school facilities have been built, 285 facilities renovated, 924 small businesses supported and 3 213 temporary jobs created,” said the department.

The Presidency said Shanduka is a non-profit organisation established by Ramaphosa in 2002.

It said the organisation has made substantial contributions to the development of township and rural schools.

“In 2013 the Shanduka Foundation committed R100 million to a school development project in the Free State alongside Kagiso Trust which also made a R100 million commitment. The Free State Department of Education made a commitment to match these contributions,” said the Presidency.

It said the KST has facilitated the contribution of around R280 million from different foundations and private sector donors for the project.

“Neither President Ramaphosa nor any companies in which he held interests has ever received any benefit from school construction in the Free State or anywhere else in the country. On the contrary, both President Ramaphosa and Shanduka have made substantial financial contributions towards the construction and development of schools,” said the Presidency.

It said Ramaphosa was neither a director nor a shareholder in the Shanduka Group in 2015, the time he is alleged to have “persuaded” the provincial department to award the “non-existent contract” since he left business in November 2014.

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