A bossy Eastern Cape school governing body (SGB) member came to Jeff Radebe’s rescue after school authorities barred the Minister in the Presidency and his entourage from entering their school premises.
But the ANC delegation led by Radebe eventually gained entry to the Needs Camp primary school to speak to the young pupils.
This was despite resistance from school staff who had refused the delegation entry on the grounds that they wanted their school to remain “apolitical” and not associated with any political party.
Lumanyano Primary School’s teacher Wendy Kuse yesterday told Radebe’s entourage that they would not be allowed to campaign on school premises as that could “place us in trouble with local community members”.
The drama unfolded early yesterday in renowned musician Zahara’s Phumlani village outside East London.
Radebe is one of many senior ANC leaders who took the party’s campaign trail to the Buffalo City Metro, where the party is trying to lure votes away from independent candidates from within its own ranks.
Lumanyano pupils were enjoying their lunch break when Radebe’s entourage arrived.
Reacting to the scene of senior ANC leaders, the pupils flocked to the locked gates screaming ANC slogans.
On his return from his door-to-door campaign in the area about 30 minutes later, Radebe decided to visit the school.
But Kuse, who was at the main gate, told the entourage that “no political party was allowed”.
Kuse then addressed the entourage from behind locked gates, saying: “When the previous principal allowed the DA to come in here in 2014, the community questioned us as to why we had allowed a political party into the school premises. We could not explain why. I am saying the ANC should not come in as well now in the same spirit.”
Dr WB Rubusana ANC regional executive committee (REC) member Thobeka Mati threatened Kuse saying, “failing which this school will never get anything from an ANC- led government going forward”.
But Kuse still refused to open.
However, school governing body (SGB) chairwoman Nontombi Damoyi came to Radebe’s rescue.
Damoyi shouted at Kuse, saying: “I am this school’s SGB chairwoman and I am ordering you to open these gates now.”
Kuse then obliged and called the school caretaker to open the gates.
Immediately thereafter, hundreds of excited pupils who were already in class, stormed out and joined Radebe’s entourage, shouting slogans such as “Viva ANC” and “DA must fall”.
While some of the school teachers were overheard whispering that the ANC’s visit was causing chaos and disrupting classes, Radebe told Kuse that he had decided to return and enter the school because he had noted how “conscientised the children were”.
Radebe had earlier visited various homes where he urged residents to vote for his party.
A 93-year-old and partially blind Nomvula Kiva said he was pleased the ANC government had built her an RDP home after she had stayed in a dilapidated shack for decades.
Nomqhagi Woshe, 91, was also excited when Radebe came into her house and handed her an ANC T-shirt.
“I am very pleased that national leaders do think about us in this part of the world. I once left the ANC and joined DA, but I have since returned to the party of my forefathers because they are the only ones who showed respect to elders like myself,” Woshe told the Dispatch. — firstname.lastname@example.org