Hon. Speaker, from the outset the IFP is against the destruction of property. Unfortunately, it seems that people emulate an old tactic used in the past by the ANC to communicate its frustrations: through the burning of infrastructure. The IFP Founder and IFP President Emeritus, His Excellency, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, once wrote:
“When I think back to the June 1976 student uprisings, I remember clearly how the ANC urged students to destroy schools as a way of protest. I warned them against this strategy, cautioning that once it became inculcated in the minds of the population, it would be impossible to reverse. But they forged ahead. The children who destroyed school buildings were lionised as heroes, and the stoning of police was hailed as acts of bravery. Thus, one generation taught the next.”
Sadly, it is clear that now the chickens have come home to roost.
Further, it was difficult during apartheid to oppose the injunction from the ANC’s mission-in-exile to make South Africa ungovernable. When they called on our youth to abandon their classrooms, burn down their schools and protest in the streets, Prince Buthelezi understood that this was not an isolated moment in the timeline of our struggle. It would have repercussions down the line, because it gave birth to a culture of entitlement, protest and destruction. That culture would not be buried with apartheid. It would remain in the collective memory as the right reaction to anger, frustration and hardship.
Knowing this, he led Inkatha to oppose the call of destruction. We juxtaposed the ANC’s call for “Liberation Now, Education Later” with the slogan “Education FOR Liberation”. That culture of violence and lawlessness, which Prince Buthelezi cautioned about, is evident now in the burning of trucks, schools, libraries and vehicles during violent service delivery protests.
This is the third time the ANC in this House calls for a debate on one and the same motion. If my memory serves me correctly, a similar debate was called in 2019, again in September 2022, and now again in 2023. The questions remain: why does the ANC keep on calling one and the same issue instead of reporting in this House about what progress has been made so far since the previous School Safety Indaba? What plans are in place to protect teachers and learners who have been made the sacrificial lambs of ruthless criminals by the ANC, which has failed to protect them and to address the high rate of crime in KZN? How much was spent on the previous School Safety Indaba? Staging futile School Safety Indabas is tantamount to wasteful expenditure.
The physical damage to school buildings is the most obvious effect of fire damage, which could seriously compromise or even destroy school infrastructure. However, this type of damage may also result in buildings being uninhabitable for an extended period of time, forcing the school to find alternative locations to hold classes. If this is not possible, schools have to temporarily transfer learners to other schools until the fire damage has been repaired.
When the Department of Education diverts funds to cover unfunded mandates, such as to rebuild or repair burnt-down schools, the Department is then unable to provide resources to needy schools.
As the IFP, we are saying that if learners and community members destroy property – like schools – they must be held accountable, and rebuild or repair the damage, at their own cost. Government cannot carry these costs. A no-nonsense approach is needed if we want to put an end to this hooliganism.
The IFP hopes that the Safety Indaba will not just be another talk shop – like previous ones – but that it will bring about real solutions, and real change. It must produce more resolutions and provide a platform where stakeholders can be bold and step out of their comfort zones. It must deliver a compact that will enjoin them to take decisive steps in preventing destruction of property and to make schools safe. We must take a collective stand against destruction of community property, such as schools.