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.

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

To the Justice Verma Committee

LETTER

To the Justice Verma Committee

I visited India in 2009 and to this day consider it the most interesting and friendly country I have ever visited. I would return in an instant if the opportunity arose.

India is known the world over for its association with peace, spirituality and vibrance. The Satyagraha that Mr Gandhi developed while in my country, South Africa, was pivotal to your nation’s own independence.

When I visited in 2009, it was clear then that, not unlike my own country, the general populace were beginning to grow very concerned with the disconnect between those elected to lead the country and the needs of the people. Corruption and all the ills associated with it seem to be a growing trend in developing countries like ours.

In South Africa we are just emerging from possibly the deadliest festive season in history as far as traffic fatalities are concerned, with an estimated 1600 people to have been killed on our roads in the past month. Corruption and poor management are to blame, with Police not doing enough about drunk and reckless driving, and other departments failing in their duty to keep unroadworthy vehicles off the roads.

I use this example because it shows how a government that no longer has its finger on the pulse, a government which is focused on political games and self-enrichment, is a government which does little to make the lives of their citizens, most especially the poor, any better.

The grotesque crime against Jyoti Singh Pandey in your country has been closely followed in mine. South Africa has one of the highest incidence of rape in the world and it is said that nearly two thirds of all South African men are rapists, just worse than the around one quarter of Indian men.

Rape in South Africa is another example of a serious issue which affects the lives of South Africans significantly and yet goes relatively unaddressed by our elected leaders. I expect our leaders to speak out on a regular basis about rape, gender discrimination, and the broader ills affecting our society caused by corruption but they do not.

But far more than that, in the second decade of the 21st century, it is high time that leaders started to actively do something about these crimes. The ability and willingless of our respective government machinery to investigate and prosecute rape cases leaves much to be desired. Often far more debilitating than the lack of competent forensic facilities, is the attitude of the investigators and other officials to the crime. Too many men regard rape as something that women must just get over, and far too many more regard rape as something that certain women ask for.

To that I say the following: “Rape is not something that happens to a certain type of woman. Rape is something perpetrated by a certain type of man.”

We need to sensitise our societies and sharpen our law enforcement to the point where the most despised and most harshly punished individuals are the perpetrators of rape.

A political leader who has an interest in maintaining access to the levers of power they so desire would do well to take this and related issues very seriously going forward. The Arab Spring of the past two years has shown the world that the general populace of any country, especially the youth, will tolerate only so much before they revolt. We needn’t ever learn that lesson again.

Please consider signing the petition here and sending an email to the Justice Verma Commission yourself.

Faithfully
Warwick Chapman
eThekwini, South Africa

Notes from Germany: Government Structure

Structure
Federation (plus EU)
Laender = States (16 incl. 3 City States: Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen)
16320 Municipalities

Law
Constitution = Basic Law (Grundgesetz)
Laenders and Federation make laws, municipalities do not
Post WW2, Allies demanded Federalism (also suited strong tradition of different stations/regions)

Houses
Parliament = Bundestag
Federal Cabinet = Chancellor + 15 Ministers
Senate = Bundesrat (Laender)
State Cabinets = Minister-President (Mayor in 3 City States) + varying state cabinet ministers

Federal Public Representatives
598 members / 4 year term:
– 299 Constituencies
– 299 PR
+ overhang seats as a result of application of Largest Remainder Method.

Office Bearers
Head of State = President (Largely ceremonial but signs bills into laws)
2nd in precedence = President of Bundestag
Head of Government = Federal Chancellor

Political Parties
The internal organisation of political parties in Germany is informed by Basic Law requirements. ┬áIe. The way parties are run internally is governed by broad guidelines in the ‘constitution’.
– Social Democratic Party (Conservative)
– Christian Democratic Union (Conservative)
– Free Democratic Party (Liberal)
– Die Linke (Democratic Socialism)
– Alliance ’90/The Greens (Green)
– Christian Social Union (Conservative)

A shallow anatomy of SA’s political and electoral structure

I am becoming increasingly aware that most South Africans don’t full understand the structure of Government in South Africa and how our electoral system works. Below I have attempted to summarise this as best I can.

Government in South Africa comprises 3 separate but related spheres:

  • Local Government = Municipalities and the elected Public Representatives (politicians) are councillors.
  • Provincial Government = Provinces and the Public Representatives (politicians) are MPL’s (members of the provincial legislature)
  • National Government = South African Government and the Public Representatives (politcians) are MP’s (Members of Parliament)

In Local Governments, half the councillors are directly elected to represent the people living in municipalities’s wards and the other half are “Proportional Representation” or PR councillors and are chosen by the party on the basis of the % the political party won. Thus there are twice as many councillors as there are wards in a municipality. Usually PR councillors are “deployed” to shadow the ward councillor in another ward with a view to winning the voters of that ward over in the next election.

Only in Local Government is any politician elected directly – ie. you vote for a person. In the rest of the spheres the political parties choose who will be appointed.

Thus, if a politician must be replaced in the Provincial or National spheres, the party just replaces them.

In the local sphere however, because ward councillors are directly elected, a by-election must take to allow the community to elect a new person to represent their community.

All SA reps are elected for 5 year terms.