James Masango MPL
Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition.
It appears that Mpumalanga education MEC Reginah Mhaule has stopped fulfilling her executive functions by refusing to submit herself or her department to oversight during the course of the last couple of months.
The DA has repeatedly called on her to have the department’s relationship with EduSolutions investigated, only to be met with a wall of silence – while EduSolutions held meetings with the DA and other opposition parties countrywide to present their side of the story and clear allegations against them.
Yet, despite EduSolutions’ damage control exercise, MEC Mhaule remains silent. Instead, she opts to question evidence of dumped textbooks presented to her by both the DA and the media, expecting us to report the finds to the police for investigation, while departmental officials twiddle their thumbs.
We are also waiting for MEC Mhaule to respond to the regular reports of teachers assaulting learners across the province – and our calls on her to take decisive action to implement methods to identify and address the reasons behind these at times savage assaults. We also requested her to embark on an aggressive campaign to educate teachers around corporal punishment, the South African Schools Act, as well as applying non-violent and effective methods of discipline – and still the silence from the MEC’s office continues.
To date MEC Mhaule needs to respond to the following matters:
· On EduSolutions we sent her office four letters calling for an independent forensic investigation, she responded on 29 August that she would “consider” our request. To date, no further progress has been made.
· Two written questions related to EduSolutions were submitted to the MEC, one as far back as 27 July, and have still not been replied to.
· On dumped textbooks in Komatipoort and Ermelo: Written questions were submitted on 18 September, and are still outstanding.
· Following the Department of Public Works’ failure to provide sufficient transport to learners in the Phola/Ogies area, we called on MEC Mhaule to take the necessary steps and have learners catch up on work lost – as far as can be established, no such steps were taken.
· Similar steps have also not been taken following the physical and sexual abuse suffered by learners in the Hendrina area, who were forced to stay at home and miss out on crucial lessons.
MEC Mhaule should by now have realised that to ignore a problem will not make it go away – in fact, it will only exacerbate it. The DA will therefore write to the office of the Speaker of the Mpumalanga Legislature, Mr William Lubisi, and request him to remind MEC Mhaule of the Standing Rules and Orders and the timeous response to oversight.
Education in Mpumalanga is in the doldrums, and is in desperate need of intervention. Teachers need to be re-educated and decisive action needs to be taken against departmental officials – and MEC Mhaule needs to come back to work and do what needs to be done.