Time Running Out for Matrics

Dr Allen Grootboom, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Provincial Spokesperson of Education

It is a known fact that the class of 2012 in the Northern Cape has been seriously compromised. All eyes will be on the final results with one question in mind, namely how will they fair?

The Northern Cape Department of Education is trying to match the challenge by organizing camps where learners from the John Taole Gaetsewe district, who lost months of schooling, are allowed to work, trying desperately to make up for lost time. What is not taken into consideration, however, are tests, exam marks and projects. Trying to do a year’s work in four months is just not a workable option. What then is the NCDOE going to do?

The best option would be to register the learners of the two affected regions for the supplementary exams in March 2013. This will give the learners ample time to prepare for these exams. They are at best ill prepared for the examinations of September. This will put less pressure on both the learners and educators on the one hand and the DOE on the other. The ultimate is that quality is not compromised and our results are not questioned.

The learners will lose one year of schooling. On the one hand, this will rest squarely on the shoulders of politicians who failed to intervene when requested to do so. On the other hand, it will lie with the community who allowed a few renegade cadres to control them. During the struggle years against apartheid, children’s schooling was also compromised in such a way. It’s a sad day indeed and a heritage that will forever eat away at the conscience of the parents who were afraid to stand up for the rights of their children.

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Air Mercy Services Have Done The Province Proud

Karen de Kock, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Provincial Spokesperson of Health

With the contract between the SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service and the Northern Cape Department of Health set to come to an end this week, the Democratic Alliance would like to take this opportunity to thank them for having provided a good quality service over the past 15 years.

I had the opportunity of flying with the Air Mercy Services recently and, aside from experiencing a good flight, my eyes were opened to the critical services that they have rendered to our vast province. They have saved countless lives and facilitated the provision of specialist services to people living in far outlying areas.

For a department plagued with countless issues of maladministration, poor management and corruption, the Air Mercy Services was perhaps the one thing that this department got right. I dare say it was refreshing to experience a unit related to our health department that functioned so well.

The DA hopes that the new service provider, Aerocare, will be able to provide as good a service. They have large shoes to fill and we will be closely watching to see whether they can meet and maintain the standards of the SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service.

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Living With Our Past

Solly Nkhi, DA MPL

Gauteng Legislature Caucus

Winston Churchill remarked that a country that forgets its past has no future. Our past has made us who we are: our peculiarities, our achievements, even our failings. It has shaped our languages, our myths and our song; how we eat, play and worship. Its memory is a precious thing that we should cherish, and especially so in Heritage Month.

As a former school teacher, I have always felt a duty to pass on a sense of our past to succeeding generations. Appreciating this, they have a sense of belonging to their community and to their country, an understanding that they are the custodians of something greater than themselves, and a will to preserve what they have inherited and to leave an honourable legacy behind.

Of course, this is not easy. We live in a present-tense culture, where the driving motive is often to have fun, or simply to consume.

And we older people do not always set the best example to them. Gauteng has been the beating heart of our country for over a hundred years, yet we Gauteng residents are frequently disconnected from its past. We often come from afar, and many of us never think of our province as our home. Can we make it a real place of belonging?

I, for one, am proudly of Gauteng. I believe in the marvellous potential it holds. But I know that for people to love and cherish something, it must be worthy of being loved and cherished.

Fortunately, we can take inspiration from experiences elsewhere. The city of Palermo in Sicily was long known as a haunt for the mafia. In the early 1990s, it had been deliberately run down (mafia linked politicians ensured that infrastructure decayed to provide contracts to mafia-linked businesses). Schools functioned poorly, and were under-resourced as a result of corruption, providing little meaningful direction for young people. Its cultural heritage – its monuments, and centuries-old buildings – were closed up, hidden behind chaotic building schemes, or literally covered in trash. The Opera House had closed in the 1970s for “urgent repairs”, and remained that way into the 1990s.

The consequence was an urban experience described by the phrase “the sack of Palermo” – a reference to the fate of a city when a victorious army would loot, vandalise and plunder it. In Palermo, though, it was done by bad and corrupt governance, crime and a collapsed sense of civic pride. “Palermo”, said one commentator, “was a city that didn’t love itself.”

Yet Palermo had a distinguished history: it is around 2 700 years old. It had once been renowned for its architectural beauty, for its culture, and had been a major crossroads for the cultures of the Mediterranean. This was seized upon by a remarkable and energetic mayor, Leoluca Orlando.

Mayor Orlando understood that to shake off the mafia and revitalise Palermo, a shift of mindset was needed. People had to think in terms of the city belonging to them, and rather than to no-one in particular.

Part of his plan was to use the city’s heritage as a lever. The municipal government began seriously to renovate, restore and beautify the city. This involved expanding open spaces, renovating public buildings and incentivising private owners to do the same. Venues for cultural activities – music, theatre, art, museums – were made available and people encouraged to patronise them. The goal was to get people to become part of the city – its past, present and future. The historic Opera House finally reopened in 1997, signalling that the tide had turned.

Education was revamped. Among the most interesting initiatives was encouraging schoolchildren to get involved. This imitated a similar initiative in the city of Naples. School groups could adopt a monument, such as a church or a statue. They would research its significance and background, keep it clean and look after it. They even produced brochures and videos about their monuments and conducted tours! Parents were invited to become involved too.

Schoolchildren also assisted in promoting a message of responsibility. One quirky way of doing this was for children to leave mock parking tickets – reading “impolite” – on cars that had been parked illegally.

Palermo is widely recognised as an example of a city turning itself around, using its past to relocate and refine its presence, and to send a message about its future.

If there, why not here? Why not consider something similar, getting young people to adopt a piece of our heritage? Indeed, why not attempt to use this to build bridges across distance and communities – why not team up schools from suburbs and townships to take care of our assets jointly? It is an intriguing thought!

But before we do that, let us spare a thought for how we treat our heritage everyday. Palermo’s upliftment was successful because it was able to instil a sense of ownership and civic responsibility. Can we say that we in Gauteng always demonstrate that? How do we behave on the roads, and how do we dispose of our rubbish…?

Our heritage, ultimately belongs to those who will inherit the future. Let us celebrate and respect it, both for their sake and that of those who went before.

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Union Must Pay For Jo’burg CBD Truck Driver Strike Damages

Neil Campbell MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Roads and Transport

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) must be held liable for the damages incurred yesterday during the truck drivers’ strike.

Truck drivers went on the rampage yesterday, stoning trucks driving past Beyers Naude Square in down town Johannesburg.

In a case also relating to SATAWU, the Constitutional Court ruled in June this year that the COSATU-affiliated union is to be held liable for damage done to public and private property during a 2006 SATAWU strike in Cape Town.

The precedent-setting judgment means that SATAWU should also be held liable for damages incurred during yesterday’s strike action in Gauteng.

The DA urges private citizens and companies, and where applicable, the Gauteng provincial government and the City of Johannesburg, to demand SATAWU pay up for damages to public and private property yesterday.

Unions are not a law unto themselves and must not be allowed to intimidate law-abiding citizens through strong-arm and violent tactics.

Press photograph of truck driver strike illegal actions (The Citizen 26 September 2012; P1):

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KZN Is Losing The War Against Rhino Poachers

Radley Keys, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Conservation and Environmental Affairs

REPORTS that nine rhino have been found slaughtered in Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife game parks, during the past four days, marks the lowest point yet for conservation in our province.

Late last week the national figures for rhino killing were released, with KwaZulu-Natal ranked second worst. The newly discovered carcasses brings the province’s tally to the highest year-to-date number yet, with the figure fast approaching 50. Despite this, KZN lags way behind other provinces in terms of arrests made.

Our province is losing the battle against rhino poaching. Meanwhile, Ezemvelo does not seem to have a handle on poaching within its own reserves. It is inexplicable that carcasses are being found up to three weeks after poaching has taken place. Patrols are either not being done properly or not being done at all and this is an issue that provincial conservation authorities must deal with immediately. If funding for more field rangers is indeed the issue then monies must be made available from the province’s coffers.

The DA expects today’s emergency meeting, called by KZN Ezemvelo CEO, Bandile Mkhize, to address any shortcoming as a result of budget constraints and for the fight against rhino poaching to be made top priority. Officials must also commit to a full-scale SAPS investigation so that corrupt officials within Ezemvelo itself are rooted out.

It is outrageous that despite the efforts of so many – rather than diminishing – the numbers of rhino killed within our province continues to rise so dramatically.

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E-TOLLS – THE BATTLE CONTINUES

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Caucus Leader

The DA is disappointed with the lifting of the interim interdict on e-tolls, but the battle to stop them goes on. We are optimistic that the court case on the merits of the tolls on 26 November will be successful. SANRAL will find it difficult to implement the e-tolls in the face of widespread public opposition. Legislation to implement the tolls has still not been passed in Parliament. The DA will oppose this so that the public are treated fairly in this matter.

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Bushbuckridge Ready To Unlock Its Own Potential

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

The following address was delivered by Anthony Benadie to the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature, in Hluvukani (Bushbuckridge) on the occasion of “Taking the Legislature to the People”, closing debate.

Allow me to express my sincere gratitude to the people of Bushbuckridge for welcoming the Legislature into their community, for their hospitality, for participating in our meetings and attending our events. For many community members this has been their first experience of our parliament, their first contact with their political leaders, and the way we know the ANC, probably their last until the next election – when undoubtedly the food parcels accompanied by empty promises will again be in abundance.

However, be assured that the DA takes your issues serious. Our councillors – locally and at a district level, as well as the Hon Masango and I will not waiver in our duty to monitor and oversee the value and impact of this legislature outreach and the contribution it makes to the people of Bushbuckridge.

While the concept of Taking Legislature to the People is indeed a noble one, and the experience of interacting with communities of our province priceless, I firmly believe that some honest introspection on the effectiveness of this programme is required.

In the past, the Legislature conducted this programme in Msukaligwa, Dr JS Moroka, Mkhondo, Lekwa, and Thaba Chweu municipalities, yet nothing has significantly changed in those communities. The challenges we observed then, are still the challenges experienced now, and it would serve us and the communities we visit well, if this programme was focussed more on the real desire to improve the living conditions of people, and less on the self-praise and gratification which the ANC so abundantly bestow upon themselves.

The challenges facing the people of Bushbuckridge is severe. We have witnessed the scourge of unemployment, we have seen the conditions of poverty, the collapsed state of health facilities, schools in a state of disrepair and damaged by storms in 2009, yet never repaired, crime is a daily occurrence, clean uninterrupted water supply is a rare luxury and several basic services are not delivered by an almost dysfunctional municipality – in short every-day life in Bushbuckridge is a battle for survival.

Let me hasten to say and acknowledge that many of the challenges facing the Bushbuckridge community today, are a direct consequence and a legacy of South Africa’s unequal past.

Throughout this week, the ANC has again been obsessed with its divisive racial rhetoric, while showering itself with praise, yet offering little hope or solutions to the challenges faced by this community.

The ANC cannot continue diagnosing challenges, as a spectator on the side lines of government failures. The ANC can no longer pretend as if it got into government yesterday and must acknowledge the past 18 years of missed opportunities.

While we must forever honour our past and learn from it, the focus of our lives must not primarily be where we come from, but rather where we are going.

For us to effectively turn Bushbuckridge from a rural state of hopelessness to a thriving centre of opportunity, we must reconcile relationships between South Africans by uniting our nation, we must actively redress our past through creating job opportunities, we must embrace the diversity of our people in the spirit of Nelson Mandela and we must put in place a government that is obsessed with putting people first and delivering services.

Too many young people in Bushbuckridge are unemployed. We must institute initiatives like the Youth Wage Subsidy to stimulate economic growth and create jobs.

Bushbuckridge must become a community of workers, a developer of individual talent and a centre of opportunity. We need to attract quality teachers by paying scarce skills allowances and we need to increase our matric pass rate. We need to invest massively in infrastructure development and we need to attract more investment.

We simply need to eradicate corruption and self-indulgence and put the interest of the community at the core of government business.

One of the greatest assets in Bushbuckridge is land. I firmly believe that we need to seriously review the concept and practice of communal land which renders so many residents vulnerable. We must give residents title deeds of the land on which they live, giving them security to raise capital to kick-start their own economic investment and opportunity.

Bushbuckridge is alive with possibility and has endless opportunity. There can be no reason why the challenges of this community cannot be overcome. There is nothing wrong in Bushbuckridge that cannot be fixed by that which is right in Bushbuckridge. We have witnessed the entrepreneurial spirit on every street, on every corner – the people of Bushbuckridge are ready to work and deserve the opportunity to do so, all they need is a supportive government, a caring government.

In fact all they need is a DA government.

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We Cannot Forsake Our Heritage For Self-Gain

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition.

The following address was delivered by James Masango MPL to the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature during the Snap Debate on Heritage Day.

Somlomo ngithabe kwamambala ukuthi nginikezwe lethuba lokukhuluma namuhla ngalesihloko kakhulu kule nyanga yamagugu wethu.

(Honourable Speaker, I am very happy and excited to have been granted the opportunity to participate in this debate on Heritage Day)

Ngomhlaka 24 September 2012, amaSewula Afrika azobe athola ithuba khumbula noku gidinga amagugu ethu.

(On 24 September 2012, South Africans will once again have the opportunity to reconnect and celebrate their history on National Heritage Day.)

As Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu once said, this day is known as South Africans celebrating their own diversity of heritage.

To describe the significance of Heritage in South Africa is a difficult task, as we all come from a huge mixture of different backgrounds. Yet, the definition of heritage described as “that which we inherit: the sum total of wild life and scenic parks, sites of scientific or historical importance, national monuments, historical buildings, works of art, literature and music, oral traditions and museum collections, together with their documentation.”

South African Heritage must be a combined celebration of all these contributing factors to our rainbow nation, and how all South Africans have worked to create this country and its history. It is a day of celebrating the diversity that brings us together as a strong nation and not to be separated and divided by our cultural differences.

The former and first democratically elected president of South Africa, uTata Nelson Mandela, probably the main driving force during the struggle for democracy stated:

“When our first democratically-elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation. We did so knowing that the struggles against the injustice and inequities of the past are part of our national identity; they are part of our culture. We knew that, if indeed our nation has to rise like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of division and conflict, we had to acknowledge those whose selfless efforts and talents were dedicated to this goal of non-racial democracy.”

Sonke siyalazi isiko lo “Ubuntu”. Sisa kholwela emphakathini esihla nawo futhi sisa kholelwa ekunakeleleni abomakhelwane njenge gugu ebesinalo kudala na? Impendulo i qha.

(We all know the culture of Ubuntu. Are we, who once believed in communities and taking care of your neighbours still upholding this important part of our heritage? The simple answer is no.)

South Africa is blessed with minerals and wildlife. The world knows our country as a country of beauty and vast diversity of wildlife. Yet again, I have to ask, can we as a country celebrate this blessing we received?

Our water systems are failing; raw sewage runs into rivers, harming fragile ecosystems and infecting the poorest of the poor. Rhino poachers are running wild, killing and maiming hundreds of these endangered species every year. Our mining industry has forgotten about the value of rehabilitation and our ecosystems, wetlands and rare bird life are on the brink of extinction. Procedures to operate a mine are no more an issue, and the health, safety and wellbeing of workers and citizens do not matter. What matters most is how much profit can be made in as short a period as possible.

If we have to honestly answer the question: Have we risen from the ashes as Nelson Mandela foresaw for this country? No, we have forgotten our heritage and the pride of our history and the hopes and dreams of those who fought for the rainbow nation. We are now driven by self-enrichment. Caring is solely about oneself, family members and friends.

The well-known anti-apartheid activist and lone Progressive Party (which eventually became the Democratic Alliance) MP, Ms Helen Suzman once said, “I stand for simple justice, equal opportunity and human rights. The indispensable element in a democratic society is well worth fighting for.”

While the government should be supportive of our history and heritage, it has not been the case with aMaNdebele ka Ndzundza. This tribe has the one of the richest and longest standing amongst the Ndebele tribes, built by visionary leaders such as the kings, Nyabele, Mayisha, and Mabhoko, to name just a few.

These kings and their followers did not submit to the trekboers, and fought down to the last man in defence of their land. One of the most important and most significant sites in this people’s heritage is the cave at Konomjherhele nearby Roossenekal.

Yet, the ANC-led government under the leadership of president Jacob Zuma saw it fit to do away with the kingship of the Ndzundza tribe, their culture, history and heritage.

This history, heritage and culture are important to all of us and it is vital that President Zuma respect that of all other tribes. Let their own traditional leaders deal with their internal issues, as they are far more capable of doing so.

I am proudly South African, and I continue to believe in the vision of Nelson Mandela and Helen Suzman. Let Heritage Day continue to be a day to commemorate our history, appreciate our country, and dream again about our future.

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Government Must Address Poor State Of Public Buildings

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition.

The following member’s statement was delivered by James Masango to the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature during its sitting in Bushbuckridge.

Across Mpumalanga, the general state of government buildings leave much to be desired, with almost every piece of government property is some state of decay, or even collapse – and Bushbuckridge is no exception.

The question that arises is why did government allow these buildings to decay to such an extent, and why did it not maintain these properties?

Earlier in February this year I visited a number of schools in the Bushbuckridge area. Walls were cracked, floors were virtually non-existent due to “potholes”, and roofs blown away by storm winds in 2009 and never repaired.

As we speak, conditions in those schools have not improved. The Tintswalo Hospital is in such a shocking state that when seen from the outside, it does not even look like a hospital. If government cannot even repair a simple toilet door lock, how is it possible to take care of an entire hospital?

No matter how good a government’s retention policy is, one will not be able to attract and retain doctors, nurses, specialists and teachers when they have to work in such terrible conditions. No matter how good teachers are at their trade, learners will not perform to the best of their abilities if they have to learn in such poor conditions.

The workplace environment must be conducive for doctors, nurses and teachers to work and for learners to learn – it is only then that we can expect good results. Government must therefore seriously consider the prioritisation of maintenance of government buildings.

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DA Supports KZN MEC’s Intervention In Mtubatuba

George Mari, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA)

THE Democratic Alliance welcomes KZN COGTA MEC, Nomusa Dube’s decision to place Mtubatuba under provincial administration after political infighting between the ANC and NFP led to a complete breakdown of services within the municipality.

Infighting within hung KZN municipalities appears to be on the increase at the expense of service delivery. Recently within uMtshezi problems escalated to the point where the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Speaker were ousted – a case which ended up in court. Given this shocking example of leadership and the fact that senior municipal officials were clearly not focused on the job at hand, it should come as little surprise that services have also been severely affected within this municipality.

Yesterday, during a sitting of the provincial legislature, the KZN Finance MEC reported on the massive under-spending within the Operational and Capital budgets in the province’s municipalities. This has also severely impacted service levels.

The DA expects the findings and recommendations of the forensic investigation into Mtubatuba – to be implemented by the administrator – and which includes an investigation into the sale of prime municipal property in St Lucia for R4.5 million – to be made available once complete. It is imperative that municipal officials implicated of wrongdoing are brought to book.

The MEC has the full support of the DA in taking a hard line against any municipality that fails to perform. It simply must not be tolerated.

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