60th Anniversary of the Bantu Education Act – South Africa desperately needs quality education

This month, 60 years ago, the Bantu Education Act (full text) was promulgated. This evil piece of legislation has damaged the people and potential of South Africa inestimably. The Act was the brainchild of the Apartheid Minister of Native Affairs, Hendrik Verwoerd. Author Alex Parker wrote the following on Verwoerd and the Bantu Education Act:

“In a crime of lasting and monumental proportions, [Verwoerd] penned and promulgated the 1953 Bantu Education Act. There is no better person than Verwoerd himself to articulate how he felt about the education of black people:

“There is no place for [blacks] in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour,” he declared. “What is the use of teaching the Bantu child mathematics when it cannot use it in practice? That is quite absurd. Education must train people in accordance with their opportunities in life, according to the sphere in which they live.”

Blacks were, as [Verwoerd] put it, destined to be “hewers of wood, and drawers of water”. In a stroke, Verwoerd has stolen the opportunity of a better life from them… [T]he education system he decreed on generations of South African blacks remains, even today, one of the most damaging aspects of his legacy.”

It is against the sort of sentiment expressed above that we should judge the quality of education in South Africa today. If there ever was an opportunity to over-compensate in the measure of corrective action, it would be education in democratic South Africa. Had our governments since 1994 made quality education their number one priority, South Africa would be a fundamentally better country today.

Verwoerd was an evil thief. The man and everyone who supported him, stole the opportunity for a more prosperous life from millions of South Africans.

Imagine, instead, that in 1953 the state had decided to prioritise the education of all South Africans regardless of race. Imagine that the government understood that quality education was the most significant contributor to providing productive human resources to power our economy. Imagine a South Africa today where our education system had been providing quality education for 60 years to all races. Imagine how different our country would be, how much better all of our lives would be.

Every day we waste tolerating an education system crippled by corruption and the stranglehold of unions, we prolong the crime against our people that was committed in 1953.

The Anatomy of an RSA ID Number

Every South African citizen or resident is issued with a 13 digit ID number in the format YYMMDD GSSS CAZ, where:

  • YYMMDD is the date of birth. Note this means that a person born on 1 Jan 1900 and 1 Jan 2000 will have the same first 6 digits (000101);
  • G indicates gender, where females are assigned sequential numbers in the range 0-4 and males from 5-9;
  • SSS is a sequence number of the birth registered on that birth date;
  • C indicates citizenship, where 0 is a SA citizen, and 1 is a permanent resident (only citizens can vote);
  • A is usually an 8 (could also be a 9 according to DHA [1]). Prior to 1986 [2] this number was used to indicate the holder’s race;
  • Z is a checksum digit.

The checksum digit (Z) is calculated using the Luhn algorithm :
A = The sum of the odd-positioned digits (positions 1,3,5,7,9,11 and excluding 13/Z)
B = The concatenation of the even-positioned digits (positions 2,4,6,8,10,12)
C = The sum of the digits in the result of B x 2
D = A + C
Z = 10 – (D mod 10) [3]

Thus, for a theoretical ID number of a South African Resident female born on 22 November 2000, with ID number 001122 3344 182, the calculation of the check bit in red is as follows:

A = 0 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 = 11
B = 012348
C = 012348 x 2 = 24696
C = 2 + 4 + 6 + 9 + 6 = 27
D = 11 + 27 = 38
Z = 10 - (38 % 10) = 10 - 8 = 2

Note also, that the fictitious ID number 001122 3344 182 is valid for a birth date of 22 November 1900 as well as 22 November 2000.

An excellent spreadsheet by Robert MacLean which implements this check for your reuse is available from here.

And that’s that.

1. Note in the new ID books a note on this bit says, “Usually 8. If yours is a 9 please ensure that you have a letter confirming authentication of your ID documents from Home Affairs.”

2. Identification Act No 72 of 1986 repealed the 1952 Blacks (Abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents) Act and large portions of the 1950 Population Registration Act. Identity numbers would no longer reflect a person’s race group in terms of the 1950 Population Registration Act or any other law. Influx control regulations were lifted and passes were to be replaced by a uniform identity document for all population groups.

3. The mod or Modulo operator as used here effectively returns the rightmost digit of the number on the left. If the result of the mod operation is a 0, then Z turns out to be 10 – 0 = 10. In this instance the the resulting check bit is 0.

NOTE: To validate South African ID number using Javascript, try this.

Protesting against excellent service delivery… Yes, that’s absolute poo!

Dear Editor

Two months ago I moved from Durban to Cape Town. For the 5 years prior to my move, I had been a ward councillor in the eThekwini Municipality.

In eThekwini, I had elicited much anger from the mayor and his colleagues highlighting the extent of slums built by the City (called ‘transit camps’) with broken or non-existent sanitation. I had pointed out that very little and very often no sanitation is provided to many of the informal settlements in the eThekwini. I had campaigned in vain to see the delivery of these basic services fundamental to human dignity.

Compared with the non-existent delivery of sanitation in parts eThekwini and in other town and cities, the near total delivery of sanitation in Cape Town stands alone in South Africa. I had noted the ‘poo protests’ before my arrival in Cape Town, but it was only once I arrived here that I understood what was actually going on: these are the first major protests against effective service delivery.

The mere fact that the protesters throw containers onto the road or empty them in public places means that toilets exist for the containers to be removed from. If the protests were truly about the delivery of sanitation to the poor, then why are the protesters not targeting governments where delivery has failed and people are still required to ablute in circumstances considered inhumane?

This campaign gives us a glimpse into the worst of our politics. The activists are protesting the effective delivery of a government they fiercely dislike, and in doing so vandalise working sanitation services in their attempts to disrupt the government and economy of the City. Their motivation is not to secure better service delivery, but instead to frustrate and cost the City and its people as much as possible while protesting effective delivery by their political opponents.

Their ruse is paper thin, and every toilet they disable through their action, every ounce of job-creating productivity they disrupt, impacts negatively on the very people they purport to stand up for – and the people know it. It is thus no wonder that their party has been forced to act against them.

Yours faithfully
Warwick Chapman

Mr Speaker, that resignation you’ve been looking for …

STATEMENT

Dear Mr Speaker 

RESIGNATION AS A COUNCILLOR

I hereby tender my resignation as a member of the eThekwini Municipal Council effective midnight 30 June 2013.

eThekwini has all the potential to be the best City on the continent. From the warm and sunny climate to our diverse and friendly people, this City should be one of the best places to live in the world.

All that stands between our City today and realising that potential is a clean and efficient City government that delivers and builds on that potential.

I look forward to returning to Durban one day and being part of such a government. In the meantime, try not to stuff it up too much.

Yours faithfully
Warwick Chapman

Op-Ed Daily News – “Why I stood my ground”

My protest against the Speaker of eThekwini council at last week’s council meeting was a response to the systematic undermining of the integrity of the council which he is charged with serving. That my action was unbecoming and detracted from the decorum and importance of the eThekwini municipal council is unfortunate but the action was necessary and inevitable.

Daily News p.19 6 June 2013Even to the casual observer, it has been obvious for some months now that fairness and equality has all but deserted the eThekwini council. Cllr Logie Naidoo, in the role of Speaker since Election 2011, has been increasingly partial, displaying overt bias and maintaining alarming double standards in his rulings during council meetings.

The eThekwini council is a democracy. In the 2011 Local Government Elections, the governing party won 62%, the DA 21% and the remaining 17% is shared among the smaller political parties. The democratic institutions which underpin the council provide chiefly the following instruments for democratic participation: questions, motions and debate. The rules which govern our meetings and the exercising of these instruments are the Rules of Order.

Under Cllr James Nxumalo as the previous Speaker, the democratic institutions were upheld and the right of the opposition to make use of questions, motions and debate was respected. However, the past two years in the new term has seen an alarming erosion of the ability of the opposition to exercise its democratic rights in the council.

Questions that the speaker or his party do not like, such as mine last month probing dodgy contracts for fibre optic networks in the City, are disallowed. Questions that do make it onto the agenda are only sometimes answered, with most of the committee chairs responsible for answering them simply reverting that they need more time.

For the past two meetings in a row, the motions we have placed on the council agenda have been held over. I have, for example, had a motion relating to the troubling situation of the City’s crumbling rental housing waiting for 3 months to be debated at a council meeting.

The last straw was the council meeting that I was ejected from, where the Speaker took his authoritarian hand to the next level and summarily ended the speaking time of my colleague Cllr Jethro Lefevre. Every party has an allocation of speaking time based on their performance in the last election. Assuming a councillor sticks within the confines of the Rules of Order, the speaking time is guaranteed. While Cllr Lefevre was halfway through an important speech on City housing, a “point of order” was raised by a councillor opposite us who used the opportunity to debate the substance of Lefevre’s speech – clearly not a point of order, but the Speaker allowed it. Once the commentary was complete, the Speaker decided that was the end of Cllr Lefevre’s speaking time.

The application of the rules of debate and general rules relating to the conduct of meetings is of serious concern to us. While the governing party gets away with racial insults, homophobic taunts, gun shaped hand gestures, random interjections and insults, the rest of the council and the DA in particular are held to a different standard. The situation has become so untenable of late that the DA caucus had actually discussed how we would deal with a situation where one of our councillors was unfairly ejected from the council. We agreed as a caucus that in the event it occurred, we should make a stand and ensure the Speaker understands that his bias and selective application of the rues has consequences.

To the outside observer, the above may seem trivial, but it is important to understand that without the right to make use of these democratic instruments, the opposition may as well be excluded from council meetings. These instruments of participatory democracy are the only tools at our disposal in this multi-party democracy. The denial of that participation, undermines our democracy.

The DA held an official meeting with COGTA MEC Nomusa Dube in November 2012 which covered the performance of the Speaker. The complaints were acknowledged and we were informed that there was unhappiness with Cllr Naidoo’s performance from within the governing party as well. The MEC endeavoured to provide us a report back during December 2012, but it has never been provided to date. As of 21 May 2013, she again assured us that the report would be provided. The MEC is well aware of the concerns that exist around the Speaker but has failed to take action against him.

As reported in your editorial on Monday, the DA is considering taking the matter further, but not on the basis you suggested. We do not contest the right of the Speaker to make a ruling which orders the ejection of a councillor. Neither do we contest that a councillor so ordered should leave the council. However, what we do find highly problematic is the use of hired bodyguards to physically remove a councillor. Only an officer of the law provided for by the Police Act should be used in such instances, and that means SAPS or Metro Police. I have briefed my attorney and await his advice on whether to pursue the matter.

The Speaker’s claim in your paper that the bodyguards were in fact Metro Police officers has been shown to be untrue by the admission after the meeting last week of the Mayor to our caucus leader that Metro Police should have been used, and not his bodyguards, and then by the presence at Tuesday’s Manase Council meeting of over 10 Metro Police officers. If the bodyguards were indeed Metro Police, there would have been no need to bring in additional officers.

What we are experiencing in the eThekwini council is symptomatic of two problems, one localised and the other we are seeing all over the country. First, Cllr Logie Naidoo is unpopular in the governing party, and many of his colleagues want him replaced by Cllr William Mapena. The tension between the two is obvious to anyone watching. For fear of losing his job, Cllr Naidoo favours his party wherever possible and clamps down on the opposition. His colleagues protest loudly whenever he does attempt to bring one of their number in line, and the end result is inevitable. It is only a matter of time before he is replaced from within.

The second problem, and the basis upon which we are considering action, is the growing trend around the country of the opposition being actively blocked from exercising democracy and excluded from participation in councils. We believe there is value in a legal precedent which holds that only officers of the law can forcefully remove a councillor from a meeting. Mayors and Speakers cannot believe that they can used hired security to forcefully remove democratically elected public representatives from doing their jobs. Police officers can be held accountable for their actions, especially given the increasing incidence of violence against opposition activists and politicians. .

My speech to the council and my heckling of the deputy mayor were nothing out of the ordinary. The speech was direct and frank. It was not disrespectful, neither were previous speeches. They are all on the public record in the audio recordings of council meetings and shared via my blog. Heckling is part of politics and every party in council, especially the one in power, participates. My ejection from the council was manufactured because the mayor is opposed to my form of criticism.

My speeches address real issues, in real terms and show the City up for its failure to deliver. My questions probe all manner of cover up, and my motions seek to table workable solutions to a great many problems facing the City. I never get personal, and I never level insults. The Speaker is investigating my conduct because his party are tired of being hit where it hurts, and not because my conduct has been in any way problematic.

I regret that my action detracted from the importance of the council, but as can be seen above, the stakes are important enough that if it happened again, I would stand my ground again and ensure the point is proved. The ruling party won 62% and not 100%. As long as we are engaged in participatory, multi-party democracy, you can expect the DA to fight for fair application of the rules and equitable participation for all.

Warwick Chapman
083 7797 094
w@rwick.com