SADTU Limpopo PEC Media Statement

12 April 2016

SADTU in the Limpopo Province held its ordinary Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) meeting at the Provincial Office in Polokwane from 6 to 7 April, 2016.

The PEC took a critical reflection on all pertinent issues related to education provisioning in the province during the period under review. Importantly, the PEC analyzed progress made organizationally in strengthening the union`s capacity to continue to service membership and to champion their interests at all material times.

The meeting received messages of support from COSATU, SACP, ANC and NOB deployees whose valuable inputs and contributions assisted the PEC to navigate through a number of difficult questions and dilemmas confronting the union and the entire movement in the current political conjecture.

The PEC welcomed the robustness and frankness through which issues were thrashed out without treating any as Holy Grail never to be touched. We hope this will sharpen our perspectives and broaden our thinking in approaching the historic tasks of the moment.

On Education

The meeting highlighted a number of challenges confronting the province and chief amongst these were infrastructure backlogs, lack of sanitation at schools, austerity measures employed by the department and their impact on the provisioning of quality public education for all, non-filling of promotional posts, continuous reduction of the norms and standards monies to schools. and The meeting further noted, with great concern, that despite all these challenges, the Limpopo Department of Education still had the luxury to return back to Treasury an amount in excess of R470 million which remained unspent as posts could not be filled on time.
We however, welcome the move by the department to heed the demand by the union to fill all vacant and funded promotional posts as recently advertised. We hope that this move will bring much needed stability in schools in the province. We implore the Department to move with speed to address some of the outstanding and thorny issues affecting the vulnerable sectors such as Early Childhood Development (ECD) practitioners in the province. Increasing the stipend of the ECD practitioners from R5000-00 to R7000-00 can no longer be postponed. The union is prepared to take this struggle to the streets as the boardroom has proven to be an ineffective terrain to address the issue.

Formalizing the condition of service of these employees is not being taken serious by the DBE. In actual fact the DBE is promoting federalism in this matter by not implement the Mangaung ANC resolution and the prescription of the National Developmental Plan (NDP). We are therefore convinced that the solution to a Department that is determined to undermine collective bargaining is in the streets.

Infrastructure backlogs have reduced the province into a laughing stock as, on a daily basis, the department hogs the media limelight for all the wrong reasons. We are calling for decisiveness and determination on the part of the authorities to deal with these challenges. The union is waiting with great anticipation for the tabling of the education budget vote this week. It is our fervent wish and hope that the budget will address some of the challenges raised above, in particular the issue of norms and standards to schools.

On the Education Indaba

The PEC welcomed the call made by the Alliance Summit in the Province for an Education Indaba. We are particularly delighted by the fact that moves are afoot to host the Indaba during the month of May. As a union, we have been stridently calling for the Education Indaba, fully conscious of the fact that education is a societal issue that needs collective thought and wisdom. We believe that the Indaba will provide an appropriate platform for all stakeholders in the province to make a meaningful contribution towards educational matters. The mobilization of society around educational issues will result in everyone taking responsibility and arrest the polemics of name-calling.

On the Anti-Privatisation and Racism in Schools Campaign

The PEC resolved to put words into action and implement a campaign on racism in schools. This after we have observed an increase in acts of racism in schools in our province through overt and covert means. There are schools that, despite the 20 or so odd years of the democratic breakthrough, are still adamant and are refusing to transform and adapt to change. The majority of these schools are reneging on the implementation of the Incremental Introduction of African Languages in favour of languages that create enclaves to preserve the Laager mentality. This retreat is thus used as a barrier towards accessing education by certain race groups. The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that our minister of education is calling for Mandarin to be taught in schools even before assessing the impact of the Incremental Introduction of African Languages. This colonial mentality must be challenged at all levels. Existing side by side with this tendency are the so-called private schools that are mushrooming all over the province whose common denominator is to trample upon the rights of workers in their quest to maximise profits. We are fully aware and mindful of the fact that education can never be class neutral; hence it has been used as a tool by our oppressors to colonise and subjugate our people. We reiterate our call that education is a public good and therefore cannot be commodified. The PEC resolved to intensify the Union`s campaign on these issues. Privatisation of education is corruption of the highest order. In actual fact this neo-liberal ideology is advancing the colonial agenda.

On the Ministerial Task Team on the alleged "selling of posts"

The PEC affirmed the position of our union on the fact that the DA-propelled and DBE-administered agenda is a worrisome development in the political landscape of our country. In the haste to sully the good name of our union the Volmink Commission has decided to jettison all principles in favour of a pre-determined outcome. In this cut-throat battle the means should not justify the end, but the end should justify the means. It is a crying shame that it has had to take a legal threat for the union to be favoured with the postponement of the release of the final report before the Minster could have her "Kodak Moments" in front of media hyenas that have sensed a dead carcass to feed on. Despite the latest developments, it is still our considered view that the MTT report lacks credibility. Its misplaced recommendations indicated clearly and lucidly that it is the man that is being played and not the ball. The outlandish recommendations that it makes clearly indicates that it is used as a smokescreen to effect "regime change" in how unions are constituted in the country, in the false hope that it will "tame" our union. We refuse to be intimidated and we have long said that if there are people selling posts what stops the minister from using the Justice Cluster to identify such and deal with them instead of dragging the name of the union in the mud. History will judge these shenanigans as one of the greatest acts of retrogression in our country. The PEC has posed the following difficult questions on whether this agenda of undermining the unions, collective bargaining and consultation is promoting labour peace or whether the Minister is promoting transformation or serving the opposition because she is afraid of losing more cases at court like it has only happened.

On the state capture and Constitutional Court Judgment

The PEC resolved, after very robust and frank discussions, to align itself with the position taken by our upper structures including the Federation that in as much as we should condemn in the strongest possible terms the tendency of state capture, our response to it should not be kneejerk and emotion-charged, lest we are caught in the middle of a battle between two bourgeoisie classes trying to capture the state in order to advance their own selfish interests. The PEC further agreed that the issue should be thoroughly investigated through the ANC-instituted processes and be dealt with head-on. The PEC agreed that there has to be repercussions for those found to be implicated in the saga.

The PEC further agreed that the issue of the Constitutional Court judgment poses a challenge for the entire movement. However, like the issue of state capture, a lot of issues are at play and therefore it calls for maximum discipline from all of us. The PEC agreed that there are real and hard lessons to be learnt out of the issue and the movement will do well to take those clear lessons to introspect, rectify and improve its operations. Disciplined members of the movement who may hold different and sometimes divergent views must defer the matter to the ANC internal processes to deal with it to its logical conclusion. The media cannot replace the structures of the liberation movement that`s 104 years old.

Issued by the Secretariat