Parties lay into Sadtu teachers

2012-02-15 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The ANC yesterday laid further groundwork for a possible change to the Constitution.

Speaking during debate on the president’s state of the nation address, ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga said the ANC had drafted the Constitution, and that all constitutions needed to be reviewed from time to time.

In their speeches opposition party leaders tackled the government on education, job creation and corruption.

Referring to the economy, Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said South Africa’s major problem was its lack of competitiveness.

“We are less efficient than many of our emerging market competitors. I propose that we take our economy from being an average performer with massive potential to one that capitalises on our advantages to grow faster and assume the economic leadership role in Africa we should have.”

She said poor children were still being disadvantaged by Sadtu-affiliated teachers who did not work a full day and who took Fridays off.

Her speech prompted Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba to devote much of his address to an attack on Mazibuko. He called her inexperienced and inept and accused her of turning the opposition’s contribution into something negative.

Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi echoed Mazibuko’s views about Sadtu. “Mr President, you praise the trade unions, and even Sadtu, as if they should be thanked for doing less than the full measure of their destructive capabilities. Praising the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union for its diligent teachers was a step too far in placating the unions.”

The ANC-aligned union continued to act like an organisation “hell-bent on destroying the future of our children”, and should be rebuked, not praised, for its actions. “Instead of acting like responsible educators, some members of Sadtu have on numerous occasions proven themselves irresponsible, unprofessional and unfit to educate South Africa’s learners.”

Warning that corruption was on the verge of making South Africa dysfunctional, Buthelezi accused Zuma of shying away from tackling the scourge. “Corruption is the bane of our country” and a fundamental threat to South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

He said a measure of Zuma’s leadership could be taken less by what the president had said than by what he had not said.

“How can we embrace hope when our leadership refuses to acknowledge the many problems confronting our country, or the causes that lie at their root? Year after year the state of the nation address shifts, without ever addressing previous failures.”

Buthelezi said it was an “unspoken fact” that corruption had resulted in the axing of two ministers, Sicelo Shiceka and Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde.

“The national police commissioner, Mr Bheki Cele, is still suspended pending an investigation into corruption.

“The Speaker of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, Ms Peggy Nkonyeni, and MEC Mr Mike Mabuyakhulu are facing corruption charges in court.”

Two of the nine provinces had “all but collapsed” and the administration of the state was “in shambles”, Buthelezi said.

In his speech, Planning Minister Trevor Manuel, elaborated on the national development plan, and said there were parts off South Africa that still looked as though they were governed under the former Group Areas Act.

“We want to connect people where they sleep, pray and play to where they work.”

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel told MPs special measures against corruption would be instituted in the government’s infrastructure development plan.

Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota warned that unless the government and the nation inculcated a fierce warrior spirit to defeat South Africa’s “most dangerous enemies”, the country’s hopes and dreams would lie in tatters.

He identified these enemies as poor education impacting negatively on skills development and self-reliance, high joblessness, corruption by self-seeking cadres and absent, poor, or inadequately maintained infrastructure.

“No nation can achieve progress without a steely determination to defeat its enemies. Tragically, these enemies are growing stronger and stronger all the time.

“Left unconquered, they will quickly overwhelm us and utterly destroy our democracy.”

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