Smash the SADTU protection racket - Gavin Davis

DA MP says the union has a stranglehold over school education in much of the country

Smash the SADTU protection racket

16 February 2016

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament by DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education,Gavin Davis MP, during SONA Debate 2016. 

Madam Speaker,

Today, as we debate the State of the Nation, we stand in solidarity with the 8.3 million South Africans without jobs.

And we recognise the role that education can play in job creation and redressing the legacy of the past.

As the Supreme Court of Appeal said last year: Basic education is a primary driver of transformation in South Africa.

And yet, last week, in his State of the Nation Address, President Zuma said nothing about basic education.

We spend R203 billion per annum on basic education; it is the biggest line item in the budget.

But the President had nothing to say about it.

The matric results released last month showed a national decline from 75% to 70%. 

Every province, except for the Western Cape, performed worse than the previous year. 

And there were 22 schools across the country that recorded a pass rate of zero percent.

Yet the President remained silent.

Madam Speaker: the President was silent on Thursday because he is not in charge of education. 

Minster Motshekga is not in charge of education.

In most provinces, the MECs are not in charge of education.

Because, in most parts of the country, the South African Democratic Teachers Union – SADTU – is in charge of education. 

Three weeks ago, Madam Speaker, we visited rural schools in KwaZulu-Natal. 

Government officials there told us how SADTU teachers drop their own children off at former Model C schools and then go on strike for the day. 

One district director described it as “the highest level of cruelty.”

We heard how, in the Ugu District, there was no teaching for 7 months over the last two years because of a dispute between SADTU and the District Director. 7 months; no teaching.

We visited Bhekisizwe High School in the Umzinyathi District. We heard how teachers go on holiday two weeks before the term ends, and come back two weeks after the new term starts. And they get away with it.

At Dumaphansi Secondary, 146 learners have written matric maths in the last three years, but not one learner has passed. And guess what? Not one teacher has ever been fired for underperformance.

The reason for the high failure rate in the province was summed up by a District Director who told us, and I quote: 

“Our teachers are not teaching, that’s the bottom line. Organised labour 

has taken over the system. Until we correct that, we are wasting our time.”

Now there are many, many hardworking and dedicated teachers in our country. And we pay tribute to them.

But we have to honest about this: there are too many teachers who can’t teach, and too many teachers who won’t teach. 

And they are never held to account because they are members of SADTU and SADTU is an alliance partner of the ANC.

Madam Speaker, Minister Motshekga will soon table the so-called “Jobs-for-Cash” report.

It has taken nearly two years for the Task Team to complete the report, but we have reason to believe it will be worth the wait. 

The report will show how SADTU-aligned officials arrange teaching posts for SADTU members, in exchange for cash.

It will show how SADTU has captured six of the nine provincial government departments. 

It will show that, in these provinces, SADTU runs a protection racket where underperforming teachers are protected because they are members of SADTU. 

It will show how SADTU uses militancy to exert pressure on its members to be unionists first and professionals second.

The conclusion is clear: 

For SADTU bosess, loyalty to the union is prized over loyalty to the children of this country. 

And if you’re a SADTU member looking for promotion, it’s better to be on the streets picketing than in the classroom teaching.

President Zuma, we know this is a difficult time for you. And we know you need all the friends in the alliance you can get. 

But if you won’t put South Africa first, at least put the children of this country first. 

Break your silence on Thursday. Tell us what you will do to smash this SADTU protection racket, so that we can improve the education of every child.

I thank you.

Issued by the DA, 16 February 2016