Civil society hits government with lousy marks

2014-12-10 14:52

If the government was a pupil, it would be having a pretty dismal end to the school year.

At the beginning of December the DA issued a scathing “report card” which gave President Jacob Zuma and many of his Cabinet ministers failing grades. The ANC dismissed the annual event as a “publicity stunt”.

Today, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and a number of civil society organisations issued a report card of its own – and this, too, was littered with Fs, Es and Ds.

In this case, the “pupils” were categories like basic education, gender, water and sanitation and electricity. They were all rated in terms of how they relate to health.

Unsurprisingly, as Eskom battles to keep the lights on, “electricity” was one category in which government scored an F.

The SAHRC and organisations like Section27, the Alternative Information and Development Centre and African Gender Institute presented their findings at a discussion in Joburg today hosted by NGO Soul City Institute.

SAHRC deputy commissioner Pregs Govender gave the government an E for providing water and sanitation, saying she’d based this on the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation’s own statistics that showed SA had regressed since 2009. “About 36% of all households in the informal areas have never received services, about 3.2 million households have broken infrastructure,” she said, reading from the HRC’s “Report on the Right to Access Sufficient Water and Decent Sanitation in South Africa: 2014”.

Thoko Madonko of Section27 handed the government an E for basic education.

“Unfortunately, government still must do more to realise the right to basic education in full and immediately in South Africa,” said Madonko.

The Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) hit government with a failing grade for the provision – or not – of electricity.

The centre’s Jeff Rudin said the government put the figure for unelectrified homes at 23%.

But, he said, “the reality is even worse than this officially derived number”.

“Poor households are fitted with 20Amp connections instead of the normal 60A connection. This severely limits the number of appliances that can be used at the same time,” said Rudin.

He said South Africans’ real needs will only be met if the amount of free basic electricity provided increased “fourfold”.

For gender, Marion Stevens of Wish Associates and the Africa Gender Institute, handed government a D, hailing it for introducing the HPV vaccine to girls aged between 9 and 13.

But other activists involved in the report card said this mark was too high and that, given the levels of gender-based violence in South Africa, government deserved an E or F.

Soul City will now hand over the results of the report cards to Parliament when it reopens in February 2015.

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