Politics / 9 January 2014, 07:35am / Murray Williams
Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma has accused DA leader Helen Zille of still having “that old mentality that black people are not intelligent, if they succeed it must be probed” – after Zille questioned matric pass improvements in various provinces.
Zille said the surge in the number of successful candidates in Mpumalanga and the North West was questionable and unrealistic, and called for an independent audit of the results.
But Zuma, speaking on Wednesday in Kanyamazane in Mpumalanga, while on walkabout on the ANC’s 102nd birthday on Wednesday lashed out in a barely disguised reference to Zille: “They’ve always said that a black person cannot pass, we’re passing now.
“I heard this white person saying let there be an investigation, they can’t pass like this, and I said to myself, this person.” still has that old mentality that black people are not intelligent, if they succeed it must be probed.”
The original Zulu quote was translated by eNCA.
ANC spokesmen failed to respond for comment on Wednesday night to confirm that the nuance of Zuma’s comments had been correctly interpreted.
Zille had argued that while the Western Cape achieved a pass rate of 85.1 percent, slipping to fourth, the North West leapt by 7.7 percent to rank second at 87.2 percent and the Free State jumped 6.3 percent to claim top spot as South Africa’s most successful province. Mpumalanga came in below the Western Cape but jumped 7.6 percent to 77.6 percent.
Zille said: “The credibility of the 2013 results has already been called into question by a number of education experts, who pointed out that the results are too far a departure from the trends over the last several years.”
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), agreed with Zuma: “The DA has exposed itself as a party that distrusts black people and still subscribes to outdated colonial preconceptions and stereotypes…
“The DA has tried to hide its total distrust of black people by portraying itself in public as a rehabilitated political party that has left behind its dark past as an apartheid collaborator and enabler…
“Their (white people) superiority complex made them to be cynical and doubt the aptitude of black people and treat them as ignorant and semi-literate imbeciles,” Nehawu said.
Department of Basic Education spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said the calls for an investigation were probably motivated by the DA being unhappy with the Western Cape having – in recent years – slipped from being the best performing province.
Zille on Wednesday night declined to comment, but her chief of staff, Geordin Hill-Lewis, said: “It is only January and President Zuma has already lowered the tone of the national debate.
“He is already showing that the ANC’s strategy in this election campaign will be more of the same – deflect attention away from the real issues by sowing racial division and animosity.
“If President Zuma is confident in the credibility of the matric marking process, then he needn’t be so defensive, he should just show us the evidence. And he should tell us why his government has bowed to union pressure and refused to implement Umalusi’s repeated calls for matric markers to be competency tested. The Western Cape is the only provincial government in SA that does this. He could also explain why the two provinces (North West and Free State) with the best results are also the two with the highest dropout rates.”
Zille was also earlier backed in querying the results by various experts.
Robert Prince, director of UCT’s Alternative Admissions Research Project, agreed that the sharp increase in passing matrics was a cause for concern: “There is this constant push within the department and schools to improve this number every year, and the question is: at what cost?”
Political commentator James Myburgh agreed the extent of “culling” had to be investigated. Myburgh argued that the two top-ranked provinces owed their position to “a massive dropout rate post-Grade 10”.
“One of the ways schools and provincial administrations have been traditionally able to increase their pass rates is by ‘culling’ weaker pupils between Grades 10 and Grade 12. In other words. huge numbers of ill-educated pupils fall or are pushed out of the system before they even sit down to write final National Senior Certificate examinations,” Myburgh said.
If one looked at the percentage of matrics who passed against the number who were in Grade 10 two years ago, the Western Cape came out tops nationally.