Pre­mier apol­o­gises for Lim­popo’s school­book cri­sis

CityPress - - News - SETUMO STONE setumo.stone@city­

Em­bat­tled Lim­popo Pre­mier Stan Matha­batha has apol­o­gised for the fail­ure to dis­trib­ute text­books, but warned this should not be used as a pre­text to ac­cel­er­ate a cam­paign to re­move him.

The same is­sue – the text­book scan­dal – was used to top­ple his pre­de­ces­sor, Cas­sel Mathale.

Last month, prob­lems with text­books and learner-teacher sup­port ma­te­ri­als were re­ported in the Capricorn and Vhembe dis­tricts in the prov­ince.

“I wish to ex­tend my sin­cere words of apol­ogy for our fail­ure to dis­trib­ute learn­ing ma­te­ri­als and text­books on time,” Matha­batha told City Press in an in­ter­view this week.

He said that he had re­ceived a de­tailed re­port on this mat­ter from the MEC for ed­u­ca­tion in the prov­ince and di­rected that a de­tailed plan be de­vel­oped and pre­sented to the pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee for adop­tion “so that we avoid a re­peat of this un­ac­cept­able oc­cur­rence”.

Among the chief pro­po­nents of the cam­paign to re­move Matha­batha from of­fice is the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), which had ac­cused him of tak­ing the prov­ince back­wards. The league also claimed that he ig­nored the in­ter­ests of young peo­ple.

How­ever, Matha­batha said calls for him to step down un­der­mined de­ci­sions of the ANC, in­clud­ing on de­ploy­ment mat­ters.

“We there­fore ex­pect the ANCYL to raise its con­cerns within the in­ter­nal struc­tures of the ANC,” he said.

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He said: “The al­le­ga­tion that I was re­gress­ing the prov­ince is the most sar­cas­tic, dis­hon­est and ahis­tor­i­cal as­sess­ment re­gard­ing the over­all per­for­mance of the prov­ince.

“I came into of­fice be­cause of a preva­lence of mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion and fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment.

“The pro­vin­cial bud­get went into a deficit, which ul­ti­mately pro­pelled Cab­i­net to put five pro­vin­cial de­part­ments un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion, in­clud­ing the pro­vin­cial trea­sury.

“In essence, putting the pro­vin­cial trea­sury un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion had es­sen­tially meant the en­tire prov­ince was af­fected,” said Matha­batha.

He said his lead­er­ship “put mea­sures in place to deal with these chal­lenges [and] the pro­vin­cial fis­cal sit­u­a­tion is cur­rently in good con­di­tion; we are no longer un­der the na­tional ad­min­is­tra­tion”.

Since 2015, he said, “we have im­proved on the pro­vi­sion of ba­sic ser­vices to com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing on health ser­vices, roads in­fra­struc­ture, elec­tric­ity and wa­ter”.

He said some of the out­stand­ing “se­ri­ous chal­lenges” in­cluded the pro­vi­sion of qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion, but “a solid foun­da­tion for im­prove­ment” was in place.

He said al­most all heads of depart­ment had been ap­pointed, ex­cept the head of depart­ment of sport, arts and cul­ture.

A se­lec­tion process for the depart­ment of sport, arts and cul­ture would be com­pleted be­fore the end of March, Matha­batha said.

He said over­all au­dit out­comes for the 2015-16 fi­nan­cial years were “static” as the num­ber of un­qual­i­fied au­dit opin­ions stood at 66%.

He said Lim­popo had re­gained its in­sti­tu­tional ca­pac­ity to fa­cil­i­tate poverty re­duc­tion and eco­nomic devel­op­ment.

There was, how­ever, “a ni­hilis­tic ten­dency to un­der­mine qual­i­ta­tive progress made since the with­drawal of the na­tional in­ter­ven­tion”.

“Some of these al­le­ga­tions are based on ex­ag­ger­at­ing our sub­jec­tive weak­nesses, while nul­li­fy­ing our achieve­ments,” he said.

Matha­batha said at least two MECs in his pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive were “re­cent grad­u­ates of the Pro­gres­sive Youth Al­liance, in­clud­ing the ANCYL”.

On the ANC’s up­com­ing suc­ces­sion race later in De­cem­ber, he said the fo­cus on gen­der clas­si­fi­ca­tion as the cri­te­ria to choose Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s suc­ces­sor was mis­placed be­cause it is not a re­quire­ment to be pres­i­dent of ANC.

Matha­batha also dis­missed re­ports that Lim­popo would be back­ing deputy pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa to suc­ceed Zuma.

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