DA gives textbook challenge to Limpopo Premier

Desiree van der Walt MPL

DA Caucus Leader

The Democratic Alliance wants to put on record that Premier Mathale’s 2013 State of the Province address was the weakest in the province’s history.

Premier Mathale spoke like someone on his way out of office, and indeed he should be.

How can a sitting Premier neglect to mention the word “textbooks” even once in his speech when there is a shortage of at least 42 000 books in our schools in 2013?

Where the DA governs, we deliver 100% of the books schools need every year. We expect nothing less from ANC-governed provinces. Today I want to challenge Premier Mathale to match the DA’s textbook performance in the following ways:

* Deliver a book for every child for every core subject in their grade

* Deliver all books by the end of the previous school year

* Eliminate corruption through an online ordering and quote generating system

* Invest more in textbooks than what the national government is willing to fund

* Allow schools choice in terms of the books they need

May I add this, Honourable Speaker – the Education MEC, Dickson Masemola should be fired for the pain and suffering he has brought upon the innocent learners of Limpopo.

The truth is that textbooks is not the only crisis in education in Limpopo. Right now there is an infrastructure shortage of epic proportions. And it is unnecessary shortage of buildings, desks and basic services in schools due mainly to under-spending and mismanagement of funds.

The Limpopo school infrastructure report presented to Parliament’s SCOPA committee tells the story of shocking corruption in the Public Works Department.

The report tells the sad story of 15 schools in Limpopo that should have been built, but because of corruption children are still learning under trees. These schools are a drop in the ocean, there are many more that the ongoing investigation has not yet unearthed.

And this infrastructure crisis continues in our hospitals and clinics. How many babies must die unnecessarily in Limpopo hospitals because there are not enough staff to cope with the patient load?

How many patients will be turned away at the door for basic health problems like broken arms and ARV medication before we fix our public healthcare facilities?

But beyond the right to education and health, Honourable Speaker, we are dealing with the most basic crisis imaginable in Limpopo – the right to drink water. In townships in Lephalale, toilets at the local schools are not flushing while residents are forced to go to other villages or dig deep in their pockets to buy water. School children spend the whole day without water in scorching heat and even the school feeding scheme has stopped due to a lack of water. And this crisis is not restricted to Lephalale. It is happening province-wide.

Honourable Speaker, is this what President Mandela fought for? For people to be robbed of their dignity, and their right to life, in most basic way? And there is a simple solution – eliminate corruption and under-spending in our municipalities. There were no new anti-corruption measures announced even though provincial departments and municipalities have collapsed from financial mismanagement. Consistently where the DA governs, our municipalities achieve the highest service delivery ratings in the country. We expect nothing less than that from the ANC where they govern. Honourable Speaker, allow me to conclude by saying that a Premier who can’t point out these glaring crises in government in Limpopo is out of touch with reality. It is clear that we need a new cabinet to deliver for the people of Limpopo. Those who have not performed, including the Premier, should go.

Service delivery must be priority number one and under Premier Mathale this has not been the case.

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