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The FW de Klerk Foundation writes regular articles on topical issues, supports language and cultural rights and participates in the national debate on racial and cultural issues. The Foundation also promotes communication by holding conferences and workshops.

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The recently published Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) has outraged educators and parents. The report contains the shocking revelation that 78% of Grade 4 learners in South Africa cannot comprehend what they read. The causes were sought - and apparently found. The scapegoats included education policy, outcomes-based education, parents’ shortcomings, teachers’ inability to teach children to read, teachers’ inadequate education and a school environment where learners are often bullied. And it may be true that this and other factors played a part in this disappointing outcome. This is a very complex problem.

However, one of the factors that received almost no attention is mother tongue education (or the lack thereof).

ct conf finalThe FW de Klerk Foundation - in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation - invites you to attend our Annual Conference. Our theme for 2018 is: “South Africa Beyond State Capture and Corruption”.

The FW de Klerk Foundation annually hosts a conference on 2 February in Cape Town, to coincide with the announcement in Parliament in 1990 of the release of Nelson Mandela and other prisoners and the unbanning of several organisations. Each year the conference tackles a topical theme, with input from a diverse range of influential speakers. Previous speakers include former President Kgalema Motlanthe, Justice Albie Sachs, Dr Mathews Phosa, Ms Rhoda Kadalie, Prof Frans Viljoen, Mr Sipho Pityana, Adv Jeremy Gauntlett, Mr Johann Rupert and former President FW de Klerk. 

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With Nasrec '17 just days away, it is still unclear who the new ANC president will be, come 20 December. Following the end of nominations by provinces and branches, there are two clear frontrunners: Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa. At this stage (with a number of branches yet to nominate a candidate or embroiled in court cases), no other candidate has received the minimum percentage of 15% of branch nominations needed for the presidency. This means that candidates like Zweli Mkhize and Lindiwe Sisulu can only be nominated as candidates if they garner the support of 25% of conference delegates during the proceedings. This is unlikely. As far as the deputy presidency is concerned, a number of branches and provinces have nominated Mkhize and Sisulu. Then, the so-called “kingmaker” of Mpumalanga, DD Mabuza, was nominated by the KwaZulu-Natal province as deputy president under Dlamini-Zuma.

Mandela Day

It is today four years since South Africa mourned the passing of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the first President of the democratic and non-racial South Africa. And even though this is a short time in the life of a country, it seems much longer. This feeling originates from the fact that in the last four years, the country has moved almost a lifetime away from Madiba’s South Africa. During, and for some time after his presidency, South Africa was the country of hope, of reconciliation, of an active reconstruction and development programme, and of a public service with a motto such as batho pele, the people first. 

Even within his beloved ANC, countless leaders have asked the question of what Madiba would have thought of the South Africa of 2017. A South Africa where hope has all but left even the most patriotic of South Africans, where reconciliation has been replaced with racialisation and intolerance, where not even the most basic of government programmes are implemented and service delivery has grinded to a halt, where the motto of the public service is, with only a few exceptions, ke pele, me first. Those same leaders answered their own question: He would have been pained, sad and furious. Lack of leadership, corruption and state capture are far from the ideal society Madiba had envisaged for the nation.

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In an affidavit that came to light last week, the evidence leader of the parliamentary Eskom inquiry, Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara, stated that the Minister of State Security, Bongani Bongo, offered him a bribe to derail the inquiry. It was specifically stated that Bongo told Vanara that he offered him the “blank cheque” at the request of the interim chairman of the Eskom board, Zethembe Khoza. Khoza has since denied that he had anything to do with the bribe or that he even knows Bongo.

All parties taking part in the Eskom inquiry were outraged by this, and the Speaker even reported this on Monday to President Zuma, as Minister Bongo is a member of his cabinet. The Presidency released a statement on Tuesday stating that the president is “attending to the matter”.

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The Life Esidimeni tragedy, in which 143 psychiatric patients lost their lives, often in painful circumstances, subject to inhumane conditions, is replaying before our very eyes. This, as part of the arbitration hearing proceedings are televised on news channels daily. While watching the painful interrogation of former Director of Mental Health in Gauteng, Makgabo Manamela by former Constitutional Court judge Dikgang Moseneke, and hearing her often repeated remark “it was not my fault”, one cannot help but think that we have entered a political age of no consequences.

In his testimony to a parliamentary inquiry on Eskom, the former Chairman of the Board, Zola Tsotsi, made statements under oath that seriously implicated the relevant Minister, Lynne Brown, as being part of the state capture process, resulting in losses or misspent funding of millions of Rands. Minister Brown’s now notorious remark in response to this, that “one of us is lying” falls into the same category of no consequences. And Bathabile Dlamini’s arrogant and cavalier attitude about the Post Office contract with SASSA brings the same to mind: she simply does not take responsibility for her mandated task to ensure that 17 million poor South Africans get their social grants in time.

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In his reply to the avalanche of criticism on the proposed amendments to the Schools Act, Mr Panyaza Lesufi, MEC for Education in Gauteng, recently said that “economically and educationally the country cannot afford single-medium schools (read: Afrikaans-language schools) when the demand for education is so great”.

Before the merit of this statement is examined, it must first be determined what the facts are. There are more than 25 000 schools in the country, of which 15 000 are English single-medium schools, 1 200 are Afrikaans single-medium, with about 1 300 additional schools using both Afrikaans and English. This equates to approximately 10% of schools using Afrikaans as language of instruction. But only 5% of all schools in the country are Afrikaans single-medium. In Gauteng, Lesufi's province, of 2 080 schools, only 124 are Afrikaans single-medium schools - 5.9% of all schools. There is an estimated shortage of 159 schools in Gauteng. The reason for this is not primarily a lack of capital, but rather poor planning and the consequent failure to build more schools.

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Undermining of the budget process and National Treasury threatens the stability of public finances and critical areas of government spending

The resignation of the Deputy Director-General of the Budget Office at National Treasury, Michael Sachs, is a further signal that the system of open, consultative and responsible decision-making - as required by our constitution - is being undermined. The deliberate weakening of state institutions and democratic processes, which we are in no doubt has extended to National Treasury, deepens concerns about policy uncertainty and fiscal management that is threatening South Africa’s existing social spending, let alone its expansion.

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P.O. Box 15785, Panorama, 7506, South Africa

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