Insight: ANC promises ring hollow in home of South Africa greats
By Peroshni Govender
ENTSHINGENI, South Africa (Reuters) - First graders huddle to do sums on scraps of paper pressed against a cracked mud wall at Mwezeni Primary School in South Africa's destitute Eastern Cape province.
The school may be located in Africa's wealthiest nation, but there are no chairs, no desks and no work books.
The Eastern Cape, home to giants of the African National Congress like Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu who helped end apartheid and Thabo Mbeki, the nation's second democratically elected president, is a glaring example of the ruling party's failure to deliver its promise of a "better life for all".
In Entshingeni village, not far away from where Mandela was raised, a mud hut with a dirt floor serves as a classroom to 79 first and second graders who sit on planks across rickety bench frames in front of a battered chalkboard.
"We are proud of Mr Mandela and Mr Mbeki. They came from this land and went all over the world. What will presidents overseas say if they see how we live?" said David Skwele from Mkanzini village, dressed in a tattered red T-shirt.
The ANC, in power now for 18 years, will hold a major policy conference from Tuesday next week acknowledging that "public services are uneven and often of poor quality; corruption is widespread; and South Africa remains a divided society".
While thousands of schools wait each year for textbooks and many Eastern Cape children are forced to write on loose sheets, the ANC has produced copious reams of policy papers to be studied by about 3,000 delegates at next week's meeting.
The conference is expected to lead to another blizzard of strategy documents on what the ANC calls a "second transition". Continued...