Last year, when Wonkie appeared on BBC World to comment on the political transition in Libya, Wonkie suggested that South Africa would best be able to support the move to democracy by sharing its experience in constitutional development and the implementation of political governance structures. Recent events in South Africa indicate that South Africa can further support the process by showing the world exactly what NOT to do when it comes to government accountability.
This story finds itself surrounded by a number of international scandals – notably the most recent Barclays Libor rate fixing one that wiped out a huge chunk of the British bank’s market value. Regardless of whether Barclays CEO Bob Diamond was directly involved or not, since it happened on his watch, Mr Diamond stepped down from his role. Further Marcus Agius, Barclays chairman will also resign from his role later this year. Clear accountability is a prerequisite for strong governance – whether it’s in the corporate world or in politics.
In South Africa, however, government accountability is like something out of a Harry Potter novel – pure fantasy. This is clearly demonstrated by the Limpopo textbooks crisis, if not by the numerous other examples over the last year: consider Schabir Shaik, Richard Mdluli and Jackie Selebi to mention but a few.
So let’s examine the facts around the Limpopo text books crisis. The ANC openly claims that education is a huge priority for them. Jacob Zuma set up a new unit in the presidency to evaluate and measure performance headed up by Collins Chabane. Under the watch of Angie Motshekga, the basic education minister, Limpopo learners have still not received their textbooks 7 months into the academic year. To aggravate matters, textbooks were found to have been dumped and burned and the company being awarded the textbook distribution tender was paid millions more than was agreed. So the question in Wonkie’s mind is what is this lady doing? What on earth is Collins Chabane measuring and evaluating? Where does the buck stop here?
Given South Africa’s flexi-governance and zero accountability protocols, Wonkie expects to likely hear one or more of the following 10 things from Angie Motshekga rather than an offer of her resignation:
- The non-delivery of textbooks in Limpopo is clearly the result of the legacy of apartheid;
- We held back on the old textbooks because we wanted to include the latest findings on the God Particle for the learners;
- Textbook delivery is not in my job description so why are you looking at me for answers?
- I’m sorry, that’s all I have to say (sung to Tracy Chapman’s tune);
- We were missing Julius Malema and were hoping this would get him to come out of the woodwork again;
- Given the circumstances, the Department of Education has decided to reduce the passing grade in Limpopo to 15% – this will ensure that the ANC is on track to meet its education targets;
- We are encouraging parents and learners not to panic, there are still 5 months left this year to catch up;
- We were extending the Outcome Based Education concept and hoping students would be more entrepreneurial about learning if we didn’t give them textbooks – guess that’s not working so well eh?
- Corruption? What corruption? It’s quite normal in Africa to tip people at least 20% of the winning tender value as a monthly congratulatory gift!
- This is completely unacceptable – I will find out who is ultimately accountable for this mess and heads will roll!
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If you, like many in Limpopo, are thinking that the education system as it stands is a total waste of time in terms of your hopes of economic upliftment, you may want to buy lottery tickets online now as a backup! For those that have all but given up, trying a hand on one of the many South African online casinos or some of the top Indian ones here might be a better option. If that’s not your cuppa tea, visit Wonkie’s recommended links for more.
Related articles on the education in South Africa, corruption and more:
- Education and Illiteracy in South Africa
- Angie Motshekga news
- Outcome Based Education cartoon
- Naledi Pandor
- Matric Pass Rate in South Africa