President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that government has partnered with the private sector to accelerate the eradication of pit toilets in South Africa’s schools.
Meanwhile, the Department of Basic Education is appealing a high court order that sets deadlines for it to fix school infrastructure, including toilets.
Speaking to Eusebius McKaiser, Basic Education Spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga says the resources to provide better sanitation, electricity and toilets does not lay with their department only.
When we talk about sanitation, there is the department of water and sanitation. We also have Eskom regarding electricity. You also have water boards and all of those things. What the minister is saying is that it should not only be here that is held accountable if other entities of the state are not playing along where they should.— Elijah Mhlanga, Basic Education Spokesperson
One of the things we have learned in the Eastern Cape for example; we will say we will build 510 schools and we then get on the ground and find that some of these schools you want to replace, you cannot really replace them, you need to merge them.— Elijah Mhlanga, Basic Education Spokesperson
When you talk to the community they say, but this school has been named after a person we respect in this community so we cannot allow you to demolish this school so you rather build another one.— Elijah Mhlanga, Basic Education Spokesperson
When we got contractors, big-name companies were given huge contracts to build schools and some of them were liquidated along the way and some could not deliver on the work which led to delays.— Elijah Mhlanga, Basic Education Spokesperson
However, Equal Education's Parliamentary Officer and researcher Sibabalwe Gcilitshana says it was the department that set the timelines for itself.
It seems very disingenuous to use communities and contractors as the reasons why you have been unable to do your job. It all speaks to a lot of accountability.— Sibabalwe Gcilitshana, Equal Education's Parliamentary Officer and researcher
No one forced the department to set these deadlines.— Sibabalwe Gcilitshana, Equal Education's Parliamentary Officer and researcher
Listen to both interviews below...