Lindiwe Mazibuko, Helen Zille and Patricia De Lillie. Picture: Masi Losi

Over the past seven months, SA has witnessed one of the greatest shames since the advent of our democracy. Tens of thousands of pupils in Limpopo remain without textbooks.

When I see what the incompetence of the ANC provincial government has done to destroy opportunities for our young people, it fills me with anger.

I am angry because these should be our country’s future doctors and engineers; its nurses and leaders.

They are being denied their right to pursue their aspirations by the shameless negligence of the ANC government.

The crisis in Limpopo is our country’s greatest shame since the end of apartheid.

This didn’t have to happen. In the DA-run Western Cape, textbooks are delivered on time, to every child – one of the reasons we have the best education outcomes in the country.

I am challenging the ANC to match the DA’s record of textbook delivery.

In Limpopo, our estimates show that nearly half the school children are without textbooks halfway through the year.

In Mpumalanga the premier admits that there are massive book shortages.

In the Eastern Cape teachers make do with photocopied material.

In the Western Cape, every pupil receives a textbook for every core subject in their grade. In addition, the DA provincial government has put in place a R466 million plan for the next four years to buy additional books above and beyond what the national government will fund.

If the ANC wants to improve basic education where it governs it will take up these five challenges:

l A textbook for every child for every core subject in their grade: the DA delivers this in the Western Cape. We challenge the ANC to guarantee it can meet this minimum requirement in the new school year and beyond.

l Deliver all textbooks before the school year: in the Western Cape, all textbooks are delivered towards the end of the school year in time for the new year. In ANC-governed provinces such as Limpopo, it took a court order halfway through the school year to force the government even to start ordering books for this year.

l Eliminate corruption in the procurement of textbooks: the Western Cape government is pioneering an online ordering system that records all transactions and eliminates corruption.

In Gauteng, KZN, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, ANC governments paid EduSolutions to deliver to schools despite the state’s own legal opinion that the contracts were unlawful.

l Order the right books for the right pupils: where the DA governs, schools have the freedom to place their own orders for textbooks from an approved catalogue. This allows teachers to choose the books for their pupils depending on the learning context. Other provinces buy books based on the lowest price and availability.

l Match the DA’s textbook funding allocation: in the Western Cape, an additional R466m has been budgeted for the next four years. ANC-governed provinces like Mpumalanga cannot even afford to address the textbook shortages.

When you compare the DA and ANC’s performance in educating our children, it is obvious which party cares about the future of SA.

The DA understands that job opportunities are linked to education opportunities. Nobody can escape poverty without a good education.

l Mazibuko is the DA’s parliamentary leader.