‘Hold us accountable, tell us what to do’, urges district mayor

2009-07-21 00:00

SPENDING his 67 minutes for Mandela Day in Imbali on Saturday, the uMgungundlovu District Mayor, Yusuf Bhamjee, challenged people to hold government accountable.

“It is up to you to hold government accountable to help you where we can,” he told the staff, governing body and students of Magaye School for the Blind.

He also told the councillors to “help monitor government delivery. If not, we have wasted our time coming here … We must get involved … but we will not tell them what to do. They must tell us what to do.”

Magaye School is a non-profit organisation set up by the principal, Bawinile Mdunyelwa, a blind person herself, in the old Myezane School buildings.

It serves 76 people aged from 12 to 35, who are accommodated in dormitories in former classrooms. Six of its 10 voluntary teachers are blind. They offer tuition in Braille, literacy and numeracy and basic adult education.

Pupils come from all over the province and from as far afield as Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. There is a waiting list of 120 people.

Bhamjee congratulated Mdunyelwa on her initiative in starting the school, which he said reflects the ideals of Mandela Day. “It is wonderful to have volunteers like you and this school is a great achievement. I applaud you for your initiative and we will try our best to support you where we can.” He said the way to help the school is “to create a partnership between government, the community and NGOs”.

Bhamjee’s entourage included the Deputy Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Yunus Carrim, and his brother, Hanef Bhamjee, visiting from Wales.

The visitors inspected the facilities and the poor condition of the buildings left them shaking their heads.

Bhamjee and Carrim asked the school board and principal to give them a statement of needs as soon as possible.

Mdunyelwa said the school’s biggest needs include equipment, like voice-synthesiser computers and Braille machines, and to be able to pay its teachers. She added, “The biggest challenge we face is limited space to accommodate more students. Our biggest need is to have our own centre.”

The school has a permit to occupy land and plans to build a centre.

The Gift of the Givers Foundation donated 100 blankets to the school and the district municipality provided pillows. Hanef Bhamjee promised to seek the help of the Support for Southern African organisation.

juliadd@witness.co.za

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