Education MEC’s callous remarks shows he has no regard for the suffering of the people of the Eastern Cape

The new MEC for Education, Fundile Gade’s, callous, insensitive and irresponsible remarks during an Education Committee meeting on Friday last week, shows that he has no regard for the plight of the people of the Eastern Cape.

The Democratic Alliance is shocked and outraged at the remarks made in the meeting which took place at the Eastern Cape Legislature in Bhisho where he stated that the Department will be going to court, presumably to oppose the claims for compensation from the family of young Lumka Mketwa.

In March last year, five-year-old Mketwa fell into a pit latrine at the Luna Primary School, in Bizana, where she attended school, and drowned.

What shocked the DA was Gade’s comment that people kill their children, then dump them in government facilities, and then want to claim compensation.

Gade’s comments show that he is has no regard for the suffering of the family of Mketwa, or the countless others that have suffered as a result of his Department’s inability to deliver basic services.

If the MEC suspects foul play, he should provide evidence. Making such irresponsible remarks without providing any evidence only serves to denigrate the dignity of the Mketwa family.

Clearly the MEC is intent on distancing the Department from taking responsibility from the fact that it has failed to provide schools with safe sanitation facilities.

The latest statistics, provided in response to a parliamentary question in March this year, show that 1,598 schools in the Eastern Cape still use pit toilets, affecting 458,147 learners.

I have written to the Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, to request that he investigates these remarks and to censure the MEC, to prevent him from making any further reckless and irresponsible remarks in this respect.

I have also written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio of Education and requested that the MEC be called before the committee to explain his remarks.

I will also continue to drive the issue of eradicating pit latrines in Eastern Cape schools.

The Department’s inability to eliminate pit latrines is a clear sign of an uncaring government. How many more children would have to face the same fate as Lumka Mketwa, before the Department takes drastic steps in this matter?

All learners attending schools in the Eastern Cape must be provided safe and hygienic sanitation facilities.

This can be achieved. The DA-led Western Cape, Government has eradicated pit latrines, ensuring that no child attending any school in the Western Cape is exposed to unsafe and unhygienic sanitation facilities.

The DA will continue to fight for the safety and dignity our children in our province.