S.Africa's Zuma refuses to sack minister over books scandal
Posted Monday, July 23 2012 at 13:38
South Africa's president on Monday refused to dismiss the education minister after a textbook scandal that left more than 5,000 rural schools learning without books for more than six months.
Education officials have failed to deliver textbooks to thousands of rural schools, prompting a national outcry and calls for the axing of the Education Minister Angie Motshekga.
"Kick the minister out, it doesn't work that way... otherwise we wouldn't be running a government," President Jacob Zuma told Talk Radio 702 in an interview.
"You can't, without verifying the facts... just fire people.
"We need to act fairly. You don't know exactly who is responsible. You can't say the minister who is sitting in Pretoria in the office is responsible... she has to find who the individual responsible is."
Education officials were hauled to court over the textbook scandal in the northern Limpopo province, where activists said more than 1.7 million learners in 5,000 schools were affected. The court declared last month that the students' right to an education had been violated, and set out deadlines for delivering the books.
Last week a report by a special government task team revealed that 22 percent of schools in the province were still without books, seven months into the academic year.
Reports have emerged elsewhere in the country's Eastern Cape region that teachers are having to photocopy textbooks for pupils.
Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu last week said if the country's anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela knew the poor state of public schools, he would be reduced to tears.
He said that some children were still learning under trees because of a lack of classrooms, 18 years into democratic rule.
Education is South Africa's single biggest budget item, but schools are hobbled by poor management and low standards.