SADTU notes the State of the Nation address delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the time when the country is grappling with blackouts due to a crisis in electricity supply.

While we welcome the President’s outlining of measures to mitigate against the crisis and the declaration of the national state of disaster, we reject the appointment of the new minister to manage the electricity in addition to the two existing ministries being that of minerals and energy and public enterprise.

The Minister for public enterprises has failed ESKOM and SAA and cannot be rewarded with an additional ministry. The country does not need the creation of another political administration that will cost the taxpayers money but to unlock the money to fund education and appoint engineers qualified to address the electricity crisis.

Increasing the cabinet is against the President’s promise he made when he first came into power to trim the bloated cabinet and austerity measures being evidently applied in terms of the public sector spending and its wage bill.

We welcome plans to roll-out roof-top power panels for households and would like to see schools also being prioritised. We believe these roof-top power panels will ensure a cheaper and more reliable constant supply of electricity to schools that will ensure effective learning and teaching.

The current energy supply challenges have further illuminated the infrastructure inequality gap in our sector, and we would thus call for a special dispensation for no-fee and low income schools to facilitate access to alternative energy supply resources and not rely on their norms and standards budgets for this purpose.

We welcome youth employment initiatives that have been growing since the Covid 19 pandemic. These have been a welcome relief for the many unemployed youth. However, the youth are looking for more consistent and stable employment opportunities. We would like to see these initiatives translating to permanent jobs because those who were in the first cohort of this programme are now sitting at home unemployed.

Although the President touched on the issue of escalating crime and the recruitment of more police into the system and the various police units to fight crimes, he was silent on plans to tackle violence in schools. Violence in schools is increasing unabated and our schools, instead of being safe havens they are meant to be, are endangering the lives of teachers and learners. We would like to see a police unit dedicated to school violence.

On our part as a Union, we will engage the Presidency and other government ministries and agencies to join hands with us as we roll our out “I am A School Fan” campaign. Through this campaign, we acknowledge that schools are a microcosm of the society and therefore the violence cannot be divorced from what is happening in the community. We aim to mobilise for more parental and societal involvement including the private sector to play an active role in ensuring that our schools are safer.

The President commended the Class of 22 for the sterling 80.1% pass and the increased number of quality passes from the no-fee paying schools. Such a good pass came at a great sacrifice from both the learners and teachers who had to sacrifice their time to make up for the time lost during the Covid 19 pandemic.  They had to work against the odds to compensate for the lack of resources they suffer in township and rural schools.

While we welcome the good matric passes, we cannot fully celebrate these passes when we have no plan to assist learners post matric. While we welcome the increase admissions at TVET colleges, the number of passes exceed the capacity of higher education institutions to accommodate them. The 500 000 or so learners are scrambling for 120 000 spaces. The country needs two or more universities while we increase the capacity of the current institutions.

Since the pandemic served to further expose the disparities in infrastructure between the township/rural schools and former Model C schools. The President’s emphasis on the fact that schools must be safe places which allow effective learning and teaching to take place.  We would have loved to hear the President announcing a special school infrastructure fund to bridge the gap between the township schools and former Model C schools. It cannot be that the poor learners and their teachers have to make such huge sacrifices to compensate for lack of resources they do not have like their peers in former Model C Schools.

We welcome the President’s progressive stance on the need to incrementally improve the ECD and TVET sub-sectors quantitively. We, however, want to emphasise the fact that the conditions of service and compensation of the human resource in these spaces are also improved qualitatively. This can be done through increased investment in continuous professional development, the standardisation of their conditions of service and compensation across all nine provinces and ensuring the availability of appropriate infrastructure.

The apartheid legacy in education will not simply vanish but it needs concerted effort from government to even the playing fields.

The Government’s plan to finalise the Comprehensive Student Funding Model for higher education, particularly for students who fall outside current NSFAS criteria – the so-called missing middle is a welcome relief to teachers, nurses and policemen whose children are not receiving financial assistance from government to access higher education. It is an answer to years of begging and pleading from the union and our federation, COSATU. We would like to see the plan speedily expedited.

We hope the missing-middle will be favourably considered for housing with the finalisation of the transfer of 14 000 hectares of state land for housing as they struggle to get home loans from banks and cannot access government housing as they are deemed to be earning enough to afford a bank home loan and yet banks say they earn too little to be granted a home loan.

The call by our federation, for the creation of a state bank is finally gaining traction. The announcement that the National Assembly is considering the Postbank Amendment Bill which if passed, will ensure the licencing of the PostBank to lay the foundation for the creation of a state bank, is welcomed. We believe this will bring financial freedom to SMME’s, youth and women-owned businesses and communities who suffer as they do not meet the criteria set by commercial banks.

As we conclude, we welcome the President’s concerns about the tensions between Israel and Palestine, the disaster in Turkey and the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the country’s commitments to peace in the continent. However, he was silent about the persecution of civil movements, activists, and labour organisations in Swaziland. The time for quiet diplomacy is over. South Africa should make her voice clearly heard against the atrocities in Swaziland.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat


General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968

Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651

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