The Secretary General of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), Yongama Zigebe, asked to know how many rural schools still utilises hazardous pit toilets, during his presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on Tuesday.

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga stated that as of March 2023, the agency has determined that 3,398 schools across the nation still utilised pit latrine restrooms. More than 3,000 schools still have pit latrines that are unlawful, deteriorating, and in need of replacement.

The Committee Chairperson, Bongiwe Mbingo-Gigaba, requested that the Department of Basic Education revisit the issue and compile the precise numbers, as it did not appear to have them. She also urged all parties to have contact through their official channels.

Reports on budgetary allotments for the elimination of pit latrines and progress reports covering the period from March 2023 to November 2023, including quarterly progress reports from all impacted provinces prior to the Department of Basic Education’s 2025 deadline, are among the demands put forth by Zigebe.

“Now is the time to do right by those children whose future lingers in a grave of pit latrines on a daily basis in those schools. Let us protect and uphold their human rights as enshrined in the Chapter 2 Bill of Rights of the Supreme law of the Nation, the Constitution,” said Zigebe.

As per usual, the Department of Basic Education pointed the finger at a number of obstacles, including inadequate or non-existent oversight of the projects being completed by Implementing Agents and Contractors, the failure to use ICT to improve systems for the delivery of infrastructure, and the lack of accountability on the part of Implementing Agents and Professional Service Providers (PSPs), including opposition from the community and lawsuits from competitors against the use of Alternative Building Technologies (ABT).

The national Department of Basic Education is targeting December 2023 and 2025, while the provincial departments have pledged to eliminating all pit latrines in their respective provinces by March 2024. We live in no man’s land.

The Department of Basic Education has yet again pledged that pit toilets will be demolished at all schools by the end of December, along with the inauguration of projects for community involvement.

The UDM and Nguvu Collective Leaders are requesting the implementation of appropriate sanitary measures, particularly with regard to the pit latrines that are endangering children’s lives on a regular basis. Additionally, we are urging South Africans to put pressure on the department to end this evil.

Issued by:
Mr Yongama Zigebe
UDM Secretary General