Vuwani’s pupils set to return to schools

Vuwani pupils could be back in class when schools reopen next month after the community agreed on Friday to lift the shutdown that saw them miss preliminary examinations and cost them a month of schooling.

A mass meeting has been called to inform the villagers of the decision tomorrow.

City Press has learnt that the feeling on the ground was that this would be widely welcomed given the fact that Grade 12 examinations were only a few weeks away.

Although he would not confirm the decision taken at the marathon meeting involving representatives from the local, provincial and national spheres of government, local traditional leaders and community activists, the Pro-Makhado Task Team spokesperson Nsovo Sambo hinted that the decision would be good news for pupils.

“Monday’s mass meeting will discuss the outcome and way forward of the meeting, while taking into consideration that we have pupils, and Grade 12s in particular, who are just about to start with their examinations. We believe that any decision taken should be in the pupils’ interests,” Sambo said.

The anticipated end to the shutdown comes at a time when there were only three weeks left before matric examinations kick off.

Although left with very limited time, the Department of Basic Education said they were ready to step in with a catch-up programme as soon as the shutdown was officially over.

“We are going to work extra hard to ensure that the 1 650 matriculants in Vuwani are adequately prepared,” said spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga.

“We advised them to continue studying at home, even during the shutdown because exams were a certainty ... so we’ll give all the support that’s required.”

The task team has been leading the campaign to have Vuwani remain in Makhado Municipality and not moved to Lim345, the new municipal entity, which includes the town of Malamulele.

After its unsuccessful legal bids to have the municipal demarcation board’s decision to incorporate their Vuwani villages into Lim345, violent and costly protests erupted, leading to about 30 schools either being torched or seriously damaged.

President Jacob Zuma and VhaVenda King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana came up with a temporary solution in July in which protesting Vuwani areas that did not fall under Lim345 administration would be serviced by Vhembe District Municipality instead.

However, City Press has learnt that Zuma’s temporary plan was not implemented because the Lim345 council took a resolution not to allow Vuwani to be serviced at the district municipality level.

City Press understood that some of their reasons were that their municipality may lose powers over some funds destined for service in Vuwani which may be required to be transferred to Vhembe.

It was also argued in the council as to why Lim345 should allow Vhembe to do its work when it has never failed as a new entity.

In the absence of legal powers to force Lim345 administrators to implement Zuma and the king’s proposed solution, the provincial government has now sent officials to Vuwani to at least facilitate and ensure some services were being delivered while affected communities were engaged.

Limpopo provincial spokesperson Phuti Seloba said while he was not at liberty to disclose the outcome of Friday’s meeting, the government has shown commitment to bring services to Vuwani villagers by deploying officials as project managers from the province to ensure that municipal offices were opened and services provided.

“We respect the fact that Vuwani falls under Lim345 and we’re there to support them as a new municipal entity. Engagements will continue to ensure there is a [permanent] solution to the whole situation,” he said.

However, Sambo said: “Government created this mess and they must deal with it... We never asked to be part of any new municipality.

“We expect them to act in good faith, show some political will and ensure that [Zuma’s] decision is implemented. Until then, our struggle continues,” he said.

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