Seven months after construction was due to start, there is no sign of work on the R30 million Cofimvaba science centre promised by Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor in June last year.
Pandor, Deputy Minister of Education Enver Surty and then Mayor of Intsika Yethu Kholiswa Vimbayo launched the plan for a science centre next to Cofimvaba Senior Secondary School with a sod-turning ceremony followed by an imbizo at the school.
The science centre was to benefit 26 high schools in Cofimvaba and surrounding areas.
Pandor said construction would begin in August 2016 and the opening would be in March 2017.
But with only a few weeks left before the scheduled opening, there is no sign of construction or even any preparation of the site for construction.
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Science and Technology Lunga Ngqengelele said "unexpected developments" had delayed the start of construction when it was discovered that "the project site is [on] an environmentally sensitive area". Various unforeseen approvals from various departments had become necessary in order to comply with regulations. He said construction of the science centre would resume "in the 2017/18 financial year".
Intsika Yethu municipal spokesperson Zuko Tshangana said the municipality had been informed by the Science and Technology department and the Department of Education, who were the drivers of the project, that building would now only start in June 2017.
GroundUp visited the site this week and spoke to learners and teachers from local schools.
A grade 11 learner from Cofimvaba Senior Secondary School said hundreds of people, including officials and politicians had come to the imbizo, but when things did not go according to plan, these people were not to be seen.
"It's been quiet since they left last year. To be honest, we are starting to doubt them," she said.
Some learners said the promises were just part of a campaign for the local government elections. A learner from St James High said at the imbizo there were more people wearing ANC T-shirts than there were parents.
"They got us because we voted for the ANC thinking that they were going to build us a science centre as promised," she said.
Cofimvaba Senior Secondary School principal Noxolo Sabata said, "Officials from Intsika Yethu Municipality were here at our school in January to congratulate us on getting a 92% matric pass rate. They spoke about the science centre, but that was just talk."