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Letters to the Editor: January 7 2011

Selective reading
Lukhanyo Mangona and Doron Isaacs (“QIDS-UP is not for new schools”, Letters, December 17) misquote my letter of December 10 by saying that the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) had allocated R100-million of QIDS-UP funding “to build new schools”.

Our letter stated very clearly that the department had allocated this funding to infrastructure, in line with QIDS-UP objectives. The letter made no mention of new schools.

They also quote selectively from a QIDS-UP presentation and publicity materials to describe QIDS-UP objectives. We suggest they read a document called “What is QIDS-UP?” on Thutong, the education resource website of the department of basic education, which sets out the objectives of QIDS-UP clearly.

The document lists five objectives. The first objective reads: “(a) Providing basic infrastructure (including school buildings, furniture, water, sanitation and nutrition)”. We listed the five objectives in our letter of December 10. Mangona and Isaacs chose to ignore them.

The department added the QIDS-UP funding for infrastructure to the overall budget for infrastructure to focus investment in our poorest schools, entirely in line with QIDS-UP objectives.

Infrastructure involves a lot more than new schools. The department is investing about 19% of this year’s infrastructure budget on new schools and the replacement of inappropriate structures, for example, worn-out prefabricated structures.

Other requirements include additional brick classrooms, mobile classrooms, Grade R classrooms and general maintenance. The department will gladly provide a breakdown, as requested by your correspondents.

Mangona and Isaacs question the department’s investment in school libraries. Libraries form part of a broader strategy to ensure text-rich schools. The department has adopted an incremental approach to providing school libraries, in line with national guidelines.

It has invested about R120-million so far in libraries at schools in poverty quintiles one, two and three, the target quintiles of the QIDS-UP programme. Our target is to reach 100% of schools in these quintiles by early this year.

The department is also funding school libraries via the infrastructure and training budgets, and norms and standards allocations. It is placing reading books in primary school classrooms and making sure that every learner has textbooks for every subject as part of our drive to ensure text-rich schools. The department plans to have these reading schemes and textbooks in place over the next two years.

The department is addressing the needs of our poorest schools as a matter of urgency. We believe the most effective way of doing this is to focus all available funds where they are needed the most — in our poorest schools. — Paddy Attwell, director of communication, WCED

The ‘blafhondjie’ will learn to bite
It is in the interest of middle-class South Africa that all township and rural schools provide an education equivalent or superior to that in suburban schools, and hence to ensure that all citizens become essentially middle class and democratic in their outlook. Education is the lifeblood of democracy.

If the “sensible left” (Contretemps, December 17) — in an earlier article, the “progressive rump” — is to serve any purpose by remaining in the ANC, it is to ensure that the regime’s top priority must be to improve township and rural education within a few short years to a level where many suburban dwellers would prefer township and rural schools as destinations for their children.

The alternative is that the unevolved African tradition, the devolution of chieftainship to dictatorship, will overtake South Africa. While Julius Malema may only be President Jacob Zuma’s blafhondjie (lapdog) today, if current circumstances persist he will be tomorrow’s dictator. — Oliver Price, Cape Town

Dossier not received
In the article titled “Telkom’s future on the line” (December 10), Lloyd Gedye states that the dossier on alleged corruption at Telkom had been sent to the Institute of Internal Auditors.

I would like to put it on record that the institute has not received a copy of it. Gedye published the article before establishing the facts with us.

This is rather unfortunate because it may create the impression that the institute has not acted — while in actual fact its disciplinary committee has not received any complaints from the union about any of the internal auditors employed by Telkom as alluded to in the article. — Dr Claudelle von Eck, chief executive officer, Institute of Internal Auditors South Africa

What are your tools of analysis?
Rapule Tabane’s comment piece “Factionalism a game of musical chairs” (November 26) cannot go unchallenged. Tabane also exposes his ignorance of Mpumalanga, Premier David Mabuza and the provincial administration.

It is a pity the Mail & Guardian is joining other newspapers by being turned into a useless tabloid by unscrupulous journalism in the quest to discredit the provincial administration and Premier Mabuza.

Tabane said: “Amid service protests, assassinations and an ineffective provincial government, Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza remains one of the country’s most invisible leaders.”

Unless you are ignorant you know that the province last experienced so-called service delivery protests in 2009. Mabuza had been in office only three months. And this demon is manifest not only in Mpumalanga but in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

I do not know what tools of analysis you applied to judge the premier “invisible”. As far I know, he has been criss-crossing the province consulting people about his vision and the decisions affecting them. I am sure communities in the province would be surprised to learn that their leader, who spends all his time with them, listening to their problems, every day, is invisible. You should ­apologise to them.

We are the only province that has coined the term “service delivery basket”. If we undertake outreach, all provincial departments participate and decisions are taken on the spot. Mabuza abhors “talk shops”. He wants tangible service delivery.

He is the only premier to declare war on mud schools and the Mpumalanga department of public works, roads and transport is doing a good job in that respect.

Premier Mabuza is the only premier in the country to have signed delivery agreements with his MECs. Please tell me and the people of the province: What else must the premier do to be seen as effective and visible?

I remind you that Mabuza is not a celebrity — he is the real leader of the people. He does not get joy from seeing his face in newspapers. He gets satisfaction from seeing people getting houses, better jobs and clean water; from seeing people feel safe in their homes.

Mabuza has never attempted to mock or discredit any attempts to find any person or group trying to discredit our province and our leaders by killing innocent people.

Innuendo, gossip-mongering, character assassination, media speculation and brown-envelope journalism have no place in our society. Do not play the man, play the ball, and judge him on service delivery. — Mabutho Sithole, spokesperson of the premier, Mpumalanga

Clean up your act
Reading the December 23 2010 edition of the Mail & Guardian I was struck by the inconsistent usage of terms to describe those of us who self-identify, and are identified by the state, as black in relation to the meta-narrative of apartheid and struggles for liberation.

Reading an article in the Transformation in Focus supplement I had the horrible feeling I was a time-traveller thrown back into our apartheid past, only to find I was indeed at the end of 2010-beginning of 2011 and that I was reading the M&G, not some other conservative publication.

Surely we threw out the insult to our collective dignities of being labelled according to “what we are not” with the dismantling of institutional apartheid? Imagine my shock at reading of “non-white citizens” in a supplement called Transformation in Focus, nogal!

Another article in the same Transformation supplement (“Blacks are pawns in a white game”) refers to “blacks (African, Indian and coloured)” [quoted verbatim].

In the Friday section (Page 3) of the same edition, Millisuthando Bongela, writing of the Dewani saga, refers to “someone of another nationality who is not black”.

The term “non-white” surely has no place (and never has) in a paper such as the M&G. And surely you have style guides, editorial guidelines, training programmes (and sub-editors) that engage with “black/s”, “Black/s”, “Indians”, “Coloured”, “coloured” regardless of whether these terms appear in the main body of the paper, or its supplements or the Friday section.

In the meantime, how about a reasonable, achievable new year’s resolution from the M&G? No more “non-whites” from 2011. Better late than never. — Sarita Ranchod, Western Cape

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