Hayikhona Madam Zille

2012-03-22 20:39

Madam Zille is at it again on twitter, this time calling pupil who move from the Eastern Cape to the Western Cape supposedly in search of a better education refugees.

I think by now everyone who pays attention to the news knows what state the Eastern Cape Department of Education is in, no textbooks in some schools, classrooms built with mud, no electricity or computers, no 'proper' sanitation and children having to swim to school because there are no bridges to cross the river.

These are just some of the many challenges the Eastern Cape pupil must overcome to get the much desired education. So many move to neighboring provinces where they may have a better chance of academic success.

So Madam Zille calls such pupil refugees, she also notes that the word 'refugee' has quite a broad definition and still uses it even though she knows that it could be applied in many different situations.

What the madam forgets is the history of both the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape. Eastern Cape was excluded from South Africa and divided into 2 'States' namely Ciskie and Transkie. These 'States' had many challenges during this time such as international recognition, they were not recognised as independent countries as envisaged by the architects of Apartheid.

They were very problematic with a very large population of uneducated and unemployed 'citizens' so the 'States' didn't have much economic activity as a result they couldn't govern themselves with little resources and far too many indigent people to provide for and on the other hand you had a much developed province like the Western Cape with all the infrastructure the Eastern Cape doesn't have so one would be foolish not to consider relocation if you have relatives in the Western Cape.

Having been denied South African citizenship with no formal education or development in their 'countries', Transkie and Ciskie citizens migrated to other provinces in search of greener pastures.

The move was not a forced move such as that of Rwandan people fleeing villages to seek refuge elsewhere because their lives were in danger but a move by choice. Choosing to live in a province that has better opportunities in terms of furthering their studies.

This migration for better opportunities happened long before the DA was even formed. Many black people moved from the Eastern Cape during the Apartheid era and now have families in the Western Cape as a result people have two homes, one in the Eastern Cape and the other in the Western Cape.

Take me for instance, when I relocated to Cape Town it wasn't because of the 'wonderful' education opportunities the Western Cape offers but because both my biological parents were living in Cape Town so I moved to join them.

There were wonderful schools in my village, first it was Archie Luhabe primary which was later renamed Bajonge Junior Secondary School. Mama Luhabe and her husband both had teaching qualifications and the community had a strong desire for education.

The Luhabes turned their home built with mud into a school. Grade 1, 2, 3 and 4 shared a classroom. As a student I had no idea which teacher to pay attention to as I could see and hear all of them.

Then 1994 came and the new government built the school and provided stationary. So when I moved to Cape Town, there was not one but 4 schools in the village who provided quality education. Bajonge JSS, Libode Village JSS, Maxhaka JSS and Mount Nicholas JSS built by Catholic Nuns from Switzerland.

And there are many others who move from rural villages with good schools to the Western Cape, not because the DA governed Western Cape built 30 new schools to accommodate Eastern Cape education refugees whilst the unions and Eastern Cape Education officials are running the department into the ground.

But because this is a free country where people can choose where they want to live and make such a choice with other contributing factors such as dead parents. If the bread winner dies in the Eastern Cape and there is a working relative in the Western Cape, then the children who depended on that dead bread winner are usually distributed to working relatives in the big Cities.

Sometimes without the death of the bread winner but a child like me who grew up with grandparents whilst parents work in the City grow up and may want to live with their parents. Or simply migrate because one doesn't want to spend the rest of their life in a rural village, waiting for a village to be developed into a town or City would be very stupid so it makes sense that people would want to move to the big Cities. Or is migration only for the rich? if you are poor and make the choice to move, you do so because the government failed you not because you were born in a rural village?

If poor people are moving to the Western Cape because of well it is governed then one can use the same logic to say that people who moved to the Western Cape when the ANC was in power did so because of good governance which wouldn't make any sense because well there was not much governance happening except people getting salaries to do nothing.

Why else do people migrate if its not a personal choice? Did the Western Cape administration ask the children why they moved to the Western Cape or the administration just felt pity for them purely on the basis of being from the Eastern Cape knowing how messed up the Eastern Cape administration is?

Would it then be OK for Eastern Cape Premier to simply look at Sonwabiso Mfaco's school report and assume that because it has the Western Cape Education Department on the stamp that he migrated from Sakumlandela Combined School in Khayelitsha to a rural school simply because the Zille administration denied him the right to basic education?

Madam Zille should know that we don't just wake up and say 'we are tired of the failing Eastern Cape Education Department and are moving to the DA governed Western Cape for a better education' but there are other reasons.

Of course I will call my cousin to come live with me if the gogo he is living with dies and will enroll him at one of the 5 schools located 5 minutes away from home with a public library close-by.

So madam, before you insult people by calling them refugees in their own country, consider that people are free to live wherever they want in the Republic, the history of both provinces with the Western Cape being far more developed in terms of infrastructure and skills in the public service and that children don't just get on a bus to the Western Cape because of the way the province is run but because they can and want to.

Yes there are those who move purely for the better opportunities but that doesn't mean you can call them refugees especially considering the history of citizenship between Western Cape and Eastern Cape.

If you wish to address the education issue in the Eastern Cape, please be very sensitive to the 'refugees' and their history or the factors that got them to be 'refugees' in their own country. The law defines a refugee and in fact a person seeking refuge must complete an application form to get the refugee status but you madam decided to give those who move from the Eastern Cape for better education refugee status as though the Eastern Cape and Western Cape are two different counties.

There are better run schools in the Eastern Cape so why haven't you asked yourself why the kids don't move to those schools but travel to the Western Cape? is it perhaps because they have families in the Western Cape and not on the villages or Towns with better run schools?

Madam you do know that there are people who believe that if the DA won the national elections, they would bring back Apartheid and yet you make such statements not considering the history of citizenship and pass laws coupled with how you are perceived as a 'racist Madam'.

Never mind why you used the term but more important is who you used it on. I don't want to be called a refugee in my country for choosing where I want to study, work and live. The constitution does give me the freedom to move to wherever I want to live, the only time when I am required to explain why I want to migrate is when moving to a different country so no pupil must be made to feel the need to justify their migration to the Western Cape or have you justify it for them.

It's completely fine to raise issues but using words that may insult other people is a no no Madam because if someone is holding a dictionary that defines a refugee as someone that leaves their country of origin to seek refuge elsewhere for fear of unfair prosecution, they won't bother applying that to the Eastern Cape education situation but will instantly think about the history of citizenship especially coming from you being perceived as a racist Madam. Remember that English is not our home language so we must reach for dictionaries for clear definitions or simply refer to the most common use of the word so most people apply the word on people leaving their country of origin and not on local migration.

So the Andrea Dondolo who insulted you on her Facebook profile was only insulting you because you invoked emotions of the past when she moved to the Western Cape because the education offered in Eastern Cape was substandard compared with the one offered in the Western Cape which motivated her to leave her home long before the birth of the constitution which gave me the choice to move because I really wanted to and could.

It was not easy then as people needed to justify their move but now I don't have to justify why I want to study at the University of the Western Cape instead of the University of Forthare or my brother justifying why he moved from a former model C school in Mpumalanga to study in Woodstock, Cape Town.

Government's responsibility everywhere is to ensure that all its citizens enjoy their rights, if this is not the case in the Eastern Cape then instead of protesting for better education, take the Eastern Cape administration to court as you believe that they have undermined the refugee's right to education just as the DA took the state to court for other matters or is the sight of DA T-shirts every where the better option?

Is it really about the fundamental right to education being violated or is it about political point scoring using the misfortunes of the poor children who have been let down by the Eastern Cape administration?

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