The ANC’s Parliamentary caucus leapt to the defence of Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga in the Limpopo textbook debacle, praising her on Monday for her “great efforts” in arresting the situation.
Hours after a DA-led protest march to the Limpopo education department, the ANC caucus issued a statement listing, and praising, a range of government interventions aimed at resolving the fiasco.
“The co-operation with various stakeholders indeed shows that the government is as serious and determined as all of us to see these matters resolved,” said Moloto Mothapo, the caucus spokesman.
He lashed out at the DA for staging what he termed an “opportunistic and unhelpful” march.
Mothapo said the ANC caucus joined “the multitude of concerned voices” regarding the situation in Limpopo, but pointed the finger at “officials” rather than Motshekga, who reportedly came under fire from delegates at the ANC’s policy conference in Midrand last week over the crisis.
“It is indeed unacceptable that receipt and access of textbooks by the province’s learners should be frustrated by such unnecessary delays. Those officials responsible for this situation must face disciplinary measures,” Mothapo said.
However, he hailed Motshekga’s efforts.
“We are satisfied with the great efforts made by the Department of Basic Education to arrest the situation by ensuring that not only do learners across the province receive these important learning materials, but are also assisted through a catch-up programme.”
He said a national education summit proposed by the department “will comprehensively tackle all educational challenges the country might be facing and emerge with concrete recommendations so that these challenges do not recur”.
Mothapo welcomed the appointment of Professor Mary Metcalfe to help verify information coming out of Limpopo in relation to the delivery of textbooks, saying it would ensure that the statistics regarding the distribution of learning materials were independently verified.
“The department must be commended for its co-operation with Section27 and the court, which ensured that the interests of the children of Limpopo are put first throughout the whole situation.”
He said Parliament’s portfolio committee on basic education would urgently conduct an oversight visit to Limpopo to meet all stakeholders and to ensure the necessary interventions.
In a dig at the DA, Mothapo said the urgency of the situation in Limpopo required “strong and responsible leadership among all stakeholders and patriotic South Africans”.
“The temptation by some to indulge in finger-pointing, condemnation and petty politicking when national challenges such as these arise does not contribute to the solution.
“It is regrettable that, while various stakeholders have joined hands in an effort to urgently normalise that province’s education situation, the main opposition sees it as a great opportunity to score a few political points.”
He said if the DA cared about education, it would not be closing 27 schools in the Western Cape.
“The closure of schools in that province follows hot on the heels of ugly protests by community members over the shortage of classrooms and overcrowding in schools in Grabouw in the Western Cape.
“If indeed the DA cared about the education of children as it claims, it would be directing its energies to resolving the education problems facing its own province, rather than conduct a march in a province where problems are already receiving appropriate attention.”
In a statement on Monday, Motshekga called for the arrest of service providers who allegedly dumped textbooks meant for the pupils.
“We feel this is an act of sabotage, and we call upon the police to arrest these culprits without further delay,” Motshekga said.