Vavi slams government for failing its citizens
Vavi launched his scathing attack on government on Wednesday, lambasting its handling of the Limpopo textbook crisis.
"It's unacceptable that this went on for six months. Did it happen because our leaders' children don't go to these schools anymore? Is it because those learners are poor and black that nobody cares?" Vavi asked delegates at the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union bargaining conference in Centurion.
More than seven months into the 2012 school year the Limpopo government is scrambling to deliver textbooks to nearly 90% of its schools, after textbook delivery company EduSolutions bungled the distribution of the province’s educational material to its learners.
In May this year, the North Gauteng High Court ruled the basic education department's failure to provide textbooks to affected schools in Limpopo violated the Constitution after the matter was brought before the court by rights organisation Section 27.
Two court deadlines for the textbooks' deliveries were missed by the department, with no solid explanation by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.
No less than three separate investigations were set up by the presidency, the Limpopo government and the basic education department in the hopes of finding out how the crisis arose.
Professor Mary Metcalfe, in the findings of her investigation set up by the basic education department, said 52% of the books meant for delivery are still sitting in the district warehouse.
There were also unconfirmed reports that a number of textbooks were shredded and burnt by the provincial government in Limpopo.
Vavi said the crisis shows South Africa’s government were unconcerned with the needs of its citizens.
"Where were our leaders? What happened to our organisation and where was the SACP - the vanguard of the poor? We were all too busy. Too busy canvassing for the [Mangaung] elective conference. Sharpening our knives, calling each other 'comrade' when we actually don't mean it," he said.
Vavi was referring to the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung due to be held this December, where it is expected President Jacob Zuma will be challenged in his push for a second term.
"We can't go to that conference only worried about who will president and deputy president. Political issues must be dealt with for a better future," he said.
Vavi called on workers to ensure accountability, and make sure their leaders were not simply concerned with "power and tenders".
"If we allow our leader's children to be in private schools and hospitals while the masses suffer, this will be the end of our organisations and our unions," he said.