Sello Mashao Rasethaba. Photo: Supplied
JOHANNESBURG -  The Limpopo High Court ordered Government to come up with a method of pit toilet eradication.  

The ultimatum came in the wake of the death of Lumka Mkhethwa, a five-year-old who died at her Eastern Cape school after falling into a pit toilet.  Mkhethwa was the second child to die under these tragic circumstances. In 2014, five-year-old Michael Komape drowned in a toilet at his school in Limpopo.

President Ramaphosa came up with the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) initiative pertaining to the ruling.  In addition Government promulgated schools infrastructure regulations that require that all schools in South Africa should have have adequate sanitation by 29 November, 2016. The regulations also outlaw pit and bucket toilets.  According to Adam Yates, a researcher in education infrastructure in South Africa, “a variety of funders from the private sector have pledged financial support to the government to help fix sanitation countrywide.”

SAFE was launched On the the 14th of Aug 2018 in Tshwane by President Cyril Ramaphosa.  At the launch, the President appealed to “all South Africans, corporates, NGOs and international partners” to be part of the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) initiative, “a bold social initiative to ensure that every school in the country has safe and appropriate sanitation facilities.” The President stated that this initiative “will spare generations of young South Africans the indignity, discomfort and danger of using pit latrines and other unsafe facilities in our schools.”

At the 2019 State of the Nation Address (SONA) Presidential Golf Challenge (PGC) Breakfast held on the 7th of December 2018 and hosted by the Minister for the Public Service and Administration (MPSA), Ms. Ayanda Dlodlo and attended by President Ramaphosa, discussions on sponsorship packages and the creation of partnership with the private sector were held and R11-m was raised.

The purpose of the PGC is to raise funds for a charity identified by a sitting President of the Republic of South Africa.  President Ramaphosa nominated the Ramaphosa Foundation as a beneficiary of the PGC proceeds and in addition appealed that the 2019 PGC proceeds be dedicated to the SAFE initiative.  In the past President Mbekiki nominated the Thabo Mbeki Scholarship Fund whilst President Zuma chose the Jacob Zuma Educational Trust.  The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the National Education Collaboration Trust have joined government in launching SAFE.  The private sector can play a major role in SAFE through the PGC.

Charity Golf fundraising events have been used for the benefit of good causes.  Millions has been raised to provide support structures and initiatives that improve the lives of the children and youth of South Africa.  For example, The Gary Player Invitational 2017 which featured a star-studded line-up, including local and international celebrities, well-known business people and corporates, all willing to lend their clout to one of the biggest charity golf events in South Africa.  Some of the big corporates who participated Coca-Cola, Fancourt and Sun International is one of the proud sponsors of the Gary Player Invitational 2017.

“Children’s access to safe water and sanitation, especially in conflicts and emergencies, is a right, not a privilege ” said Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF’s global chief of water, sanitation and hygiene.”  The PGC is largely sponsored by the private sector through their corporate social investment programmes. It is in this regard that we are appealing to business to support the SAFE initiative.

The event is co-ordinated by the Minister of Public Services and Administration, Ms. Ayanda Dlodlo, MP through  Ms. Tsholo Mathabathe whose email is [email protected] and Ms. Julia Ndlovu at email [email protected] working with the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation.

The South African private sector should follow in the footsteps of Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever and vice-chair of the UN Global Compact and participate in SAFE and industry partnerships like the Toilet Board Coalition (TBC).  The TBC is a global, business-led coalition of leading companies, government agencies, sanitation experts and non-profit organisations.  TBC supports commercially viable businesses at every point of the Sanitation Economy:  infrastructure, service providers, collection and treatment.

Sello Mashao Rasethaba is the Chairman of the African Entrepreneurs Council and Chairman of Sites-Afla.  He initiated the State of the Nation Address Presidential Golf event when he was the Chairperson of the State Information Technology Agency.