Max du Preez

The ANC's 'crime against humanity'

2016-12-13 08:23
A woman walks on the outskirts of Vuwani as police vehicles are seen patrolling the area. (AFP)

A woman walks on the outskirts of Vuwani as police vehicles are seen patrolling the area. (AFP)

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Put your anger at Jacob Zuma, state capture, corruption and crime aside for a moment and ask: where did the ANC governments since 1994 fail the country most?

My considered answer is that they have failed the youth of South Africa in spectacular fashion. Some call it a crime against humanity.
By failing those young people most in need, the government has failed all South Africa’s children, because this neglect has and is going to have a major impact on all of society.

It’s mainly about education, but also about hunger, malnutrition and a tragic absence of health and social services. 

The neglect of South Africa’s children and young people since 1994 is one of the few causes of the dangerous inequality in our society that is still not showing improvement. It also leads to the high levels of crime and violence and the often violent protest culture and spirit of discontent in society.

Economic inequality and poverty are very difficult problems to tackle anywhere in the world, but even more so in a society that has suffered from many generations of colonialism and apartheid.

The best way to address this is to ensure that all children get equal opportunity and education of high standard. This did not happen the last 22 years.

Education of black children started with a massive backlog in 1994. During the apartheid years, the state spent four times more money on a white child than on a black child.

But since then we have spent some 6 percent of our not insignificant GDP on education, a lot more than most other developing countries. Rands and cents are obviously not the problem.

According to a recent statement by Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, there are today, 22 years after 1994, still 81 schools without sanitation and 571 schools without electricity.

No electricity means no lights and no computers. Fewer than half of the 1,2 million kids who enrolled in Grade 1 in 2002 passed matric eleven years later. Almost all of those who failed are black.

A significant number of the black youngsters who did pass matric were pupils who went to school in the formerly white suburbs – the so-called Model C schools. 

Many thousands of these youngsters are driven to school from the townships in minibus taxis every day.

So the will to learn or intellectual ability is not in question here, only the absolutely pathetic quality of township and deep rural education.

How will we ever build a more just and equal society when our neglect of our black youth makes sure that they find it hard to compete with the better-educated white youth?

How are we going to build a peaceful, tolerant, progressive and compassionate nation when we perpetuate a situation where the colour of your skin as a child determines your future?

A few more questions: Where were the militant student activists’ protests against the neglect of black basic education? Shouldn’t we first fight the battle for quality school education before we even talk about university fees and the decolonisation of tertiary education?

EFF leader Julius Malema has been very vocal recently on whites being solely responsible for all of black poverty, unemployment, inequality and suffering. Shouldn’t we ask him whether the criminal neglect of black school education over the last 22 years had also played a major role?

The ministry of basic education admits that the quality and work ethic of many teachers in black schools are among the main reasons for the failure of education. Can we really simply blame apartheid for this after 22 years?

It’s not only about teachers and facilities anyway. The Gauteng provincial government said recently that about a thousand kids had died of hunger in 2015/16. Nationally this figure must be several thousand. This is scandalous. It also means that tens or even hundreds of thousands of youngsters suffer from malnutrition, which impacts massively on intellectual performance.

Children with dyslexia or who are on the autism spectrum are still treated as stupid or problematic and don’t get diagnosed and treated, because we have a massive shortage of social workers. The same goes for children from violent townships with post-traumatic stress disorders.

Civil society, especially the business community, should recognise that simply pointing fingers at government doesn’t change anything.
It is time for all South Africans to become activists for a better deal for our children, and for the private sector to help make it happen.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    angie motshekga  |  basic education  |  anc
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