The DA in Emalahleni calls for calm as a service delivery protest disrupts matric learners who were due to write their mathematics exam today.
This comes after it emerged that a substation transformer got damaged in KwaGuqa and as a result the surrounding areas were subject to lengthy periods without electricity.
The community at large and the Emalahleni Local Municipality have since been engaged in a back-and-forth argument over the repair of this substation.
The DA has established that Emalahleni, the custodians of the damaged infrastructure, failed to provide a concise answer when asked about repairing the substation.
News reports in Emalahleni indicated that repairing the substation could take up to 16 weeks. Community members did not take kindly to this prospect and decided upon a strike.
The strike coincides with matric exams. Several learners in KwaGuqa were unable to reach their respective examination centres as roads were blocked with burning tires and stones.
The prospect of households being subject to power outages for 16 weeks is unacceptable. Therefore, it is understandable that residents are expressing their dissatisfaction through a protest. However, a peaceful protest would have been ideal.
School children walking to school and traveling in different forms of transportation should have been exempted from this strike in order for them to reach their respective destinations.
The DA calls on community leaders to encourage and emphasize the importance of education. KwaGuqa township is weighed down with several socio-economic issues and cannot afford not addressing these challenges. Violent demonstrations and vandalizing infrastructure during school exams does not help the cause.
The DA commends the Department of Education in the province for allowing learners to write the exams at their nearest school. The department should further ensure that no learner is left behind and affected academically.
The municipality should also take responsibility and provide effective planning, operations and maintenance of their infrastructure. School learners cannot be caught between the municipality’s shortcomings and resentful community members.