An uninformed reply to the Eastern Cape Legislature by the MEC of Education, Mandla Makapula, highlights the dysfunctionality in the Department of Education. On Wednesday, in response to a follow-up question from myself during question time in the Legislature, the MEC indicated they were still considering whether or not to appeal the recent court judgement on the reinstatement of temporary teachers in the province.

However, it has emerged that a few hours before he gave this response, notice of the department’s intention to appeal the judgement had been issued.

This indicates that the MEC was either uninformed as to what his department was doing or deliberately misleading the House on one of the most serious issues contributing to the education crisis in this province.

Strong leadership is needed to turn the Eastern Cape Department of the Education around. If there are attempts to isolate the political head of the department, or to keep him uninformed, history is on track to repeat itself in this department. Last Friday the Premier of the province, Noxolo Kiviet warned that poor managers who drown out advocates of change would be stamped out.

The Premier needs to ensure that political heads are not deliberately or negligently undermined. I would hate to think that the MEC for Education is being set up for failure. There is no room for political infighting and factionalism when it comes to improving the chaotic state of education in this province.

The Legislature is the body charged with oversight over departments. MECs that answer questions in the Legislature need to be properly informed by their departments otherwise the Legislature is being treated with contempt.

I will be writing to the Speaker of the Provincial Legislature to ask for this matter to be fully investigated, as the institution is being undermined by this response.

Education is the foundation of opportunity and the dreams of millions of our learners are in the balance.