WATCH | School pupils forcibly demand to address Ramaphosa at Vaal imbizo
The fourth district development model (DDM) presidential imbizo, held in Sedibeng, almost descended into chaos on Friday after basic education minister Angie Motshekga refused to allow pupils to address the gathering, saying they were meant to be in school.
The imbizo, taking place at the Sharpeville cricket pitch, was largely characterised by calm and respect until boys dressed in school uniforms were tipped to take the mic as the next speakers.
Motshekga, who was directing the programme, said: “I cannot allow school kids to address this sitting. Why are you not at school?”
A bit of commotion inside after basic education minister Angie Motsekga said she will not allow school going kids to raise their concerns. They were asjed why they are not at school. The situation is calm though. @TimesLIVE pic.twitter.com/QNGMxD1g2c— Amanda Khoza - The Journalist (@MandaKhoza) August 12, 2022
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi asked one pupil why they were not at school.
Another pupil said: “We are youth. We will speak here.”
While some of Ramaphosa’s bodyguards gathered around the boy pleading for calm, community members could be heard saying the pupils should be allowed to speak.
Ramaphosa took control of the situation by telling the enthusiastic crowd this had been the best DDM launch he had attended.
He told community members they should allow ministers to respond to the more than 40 service delivery issues raised.
WATCH: President Cyril Ramaphosa takes control of the sitting telling community members to raise their issues in an orderly manner. He says cabinet ministers must be given an opportunity to respond to some of the matters that have been raised. @TimesLIVE pic.twitter.com/bsLx52RkAz— Amanda Khoza - The Journalist (@MandaKhoza) August 12, 2022
Speaking to TimesLIVE on the sidelines of the event, the children said they were pupils at Botebo-Tsebo Secondary School. They claimed to have missed school on Friday because of a water outage in the area, and said they had valid concerns to raise with Ramaphosa and the ministers.
Grade 12 pupil Bongani Ntshumayelo said they wanted to tell Ramaphosa about issues affecting their school.
“I wanted to tell the president that we have had an issue with electricity at school. It was switched off when there was a shutdown in the area last June,” Ntshumayelo said.
Grade 11 pupil Musa Lelosa said: “Since we had no electricity, we have experienced multiple break-ins at the school, including vandalism of our generator.”
We feel neglected and our right to freedom of speech was trampled on. They are not taking into consideration our feelings because these problems also affect usTshiamo Shopo, pupil at Botebo-Tsebo Secondary School
Lelosa took offence at not being allowed to raise concerns, saying he is also a member of the community.
Tshiamo Shopo said he demanded to speak to Ramaphosa about infrastructure issues at the school and the low pass rate as a result of the lack of electricity.
“We feel neglected and our right to freedom of speech was trampled on. They are not taking into consideration our feelings because these problems also affect us.”
Ramaphosa is in the Vaal with Gauteng premier David Makhura and ministers Motshekga, Bheki Cele (police), Pravin Gordhan (public enterprises), Aaron Motsoaledi (home affairs), Nathi Mthethwa (sport, arts and culture), Naledi Pandor (international relations and co-operation), Joe Phaahla (health) and Patricia De Lille (public works).
Ramaphosa began his countrywide presidential imbizo roadshow in March this year, canvassing communities in the North West, Free State and Mpumalanga as part of the government’s district development model.
The aim of the imbizo is to listen to communities’ concerns about service delivery challenges for all three spheres of government, together with civil society, to jointly plan development and respond better.
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