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Zuma yet to read letters from Limpopo learners

Nickolaus Bauer

It remains unclear if President Jacob Zuma will accept letters from Limpopo school children demanding he address problems in the education system.

President Jacob Zuma. (Gallo)

DA leader in Limpopo Jacques Smalle confirmed to the Mail & Guardian that the opposition party was currently in talks with the presidency, with a view to having the letters delivered to the president.

"We'd ideally like to hand the letters over personally to the president, to make sure he receives them and takes cognisance of the seriousness of the situation," he said.

He added the DA was yet to receive a firm answer from the presidency as to when the letters could be handed over, but said it should happen "in the next week or so".

The DA planned to hand over the letters during their failed inspection of the president's private residence in rural Nkandla, where improvements worth over R200-million are reportedly being carried out at the state's expense.

ANC supporters prevented the DA from approaching Zuma's homestead, blocking the road leading to the property.

Disheartened schoolchildren penned the letters explaining their province's challenges in providing basic education to its younger citizens.

The problems detailed range from the well documented textbook scandal which rocked Limpopo, to inadequate sanitary facilities and a shortage of teachers at schools.

"Dear President, may you please talk to the minister of education about the shortage about [sic] educators, so we may be able to study and be able to become what we want in life," Welhiminah Mobida, a grade eleven pupil in the province wrote in one of the letters.

The letters emerged as part of an initiative by the DA where Limpopo learners were encouraged to list their problems experienced with the province's education system and forward them in letters addressed to the president.

Smalle said that the DA will aim to have leader Helen Zille at the proposed interaction between the opposition party and president.

"When we deal with the president, we'd like our most senior representatives to do so," Smalle said.

When quizzed by the M&G, the presidency could not confirm any request to meet with Zuma being lodged by the DA.

"If anyone seeks a meeting with the President, the correct procedures and protocol must be followed. If the DA have done that then there is no reason their request won't be considered," Zuma's spokesperson Mac Maharaj told the M&G.

However, Maharaj said the DA was not being honest about their intentions.

"The way they have been conducting themselves is merely to gain attention. Helen Zille knows the protocol and how to seek a meeting with the president. For the moment this is political grandstanding," Maharaj added.

Maharaj said that while Zuma was always "courteous" and "engaging" when meeting with opposition politicians, he could not be expected to meet every meeting request.

"The president has to look at his schedule, his workload and the seriousness of the matter before he makes a decision on who to meet at any given time," Maharaj said.

Meanwhile, the DA also confirmed the presidency had not responded to an ultimatum they issued Zuma on Sunday, to respond to questions about his Nkandla homestead within the 72-hour timeframe they had stipulated.

The opposition party said they will now take the matter to court. 


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