Pupils without books not as sexy a cause as 'The Spear'
Senior ANC leader Jeff Radebe has called the non-delivery of textbooks in Limpopo "a shame" and expressed his bewilderment at his government's failure to see to the needs of pupils.
Basic Education deputy director-general Matanzima Mweli yesterday blamed principals and suppliers for sabotaging the delivery of the textbooks.
"We then had to deploy UTI [courier] personnel, who had to take those books to schools. We also experienced some problems with principals who were not available," Mweli said. "We will definitely penalise those [who] did not come and deliver the entire consignment that was assigned to them."
Mweli and Radebe might try to explain away the disgraceful conduct of the Basic Education Department but it is difficult to find excuses for the minister, Angie Motshekga, who had to be taken to court for action to be taken.
Until Section 27, an NGO, hauled the department into court no one seemed vexed about the non-delivery of textbooks to Limpopo schools. In fact, it hardly appeared to register that thousands of pupils were not being adequately taught.
It was only when the Pretoria High Court ruled that the department had to deliver the books by June 15 that officials stirred - but not, of course, before they had denied any wrongdoing.
Before the court case, conscience and shame, responsibility and basic duty, did not seem to be part of the lexicon of either the department or senior ANC leaders.
The court case was brought at a time when the ruling party had far greater issues to contend with - like boycotting a newspaper and marching on an art gallery because of a painting called The Spear.
That was a distinctly sexy campaign.
Children in one of the poorest provinces, which is habitually one of the worst performers at matric time, are, it would seem, distinctly boring and unworthy of real activism.