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Communities urged to participate in SGB elections

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Staff Reporter

The Free State Department of Education is urging community members to take part in this year’s School Governing Body (SGB) elections and ensure quality education for their children.

All public schools are expected to participate in the 2021 SGB elections set to run from March 1 to April 30.

The elections take place every three years and the term of office of the current SGBs ends in March.

The provincial education department said this year the elections will be held under the theme “Reimagining school governance under complex conditions”.

“We urge all parents and guardians to familiarise themselves with procedures and to come forward and participate in these very important processes,” said provincial education spokesperson Howard Ndaba in a statement.

The elections are viewed as the biggest elections after the national, provincial and local government polls.

“It is of critical importance that parents check if they appear in the school’s voter’s roll before the voting date,” he pointed out.

SGBs have a very important role to play in the way schools are managed and the South African Schools Act empowers communities through SGBs to be actively involved in the welfare of schools located in their areas.

“They were created to advance the democratic transformation of the schooling system and provide a platform for active participation of school communities in the decentralised decision-making process,” Ndaba explained.

“Our province’s future depends on our ability to improve the quality of our children’s education.

“This requires an effective partnership between the education department, principals and teachers and, crucially, parents and learners.”

According to the statement, SGBs are the nexus of effective partnerships in schools.

It said SGBs empower parents to become powerful players in the education of their children.

SGBs are also expected to be accountable to the school community and are tasked with ensuring that the school runs smoothly and efficiently.

Among others, SGBs are vital in:

  • improving the quality of education – ensuring good governance;
  • ensuring that schools serve the interests of the community and meet expectations of parents; and
  • assisting in spreading the cost of education across users and society and combatting racism, sexism and all other forms of discrimination and intolerance.

Ndaba said experience has shown that schools where many parents are involved are often the best-performing schools, both academically and socially.

“We call for maximum participation of parents in these elections and urge parents to elect candidates with the relevant skills which will add value to the governing body and its school, such as legal, administrative or accounting skills,” he said.

“It is every parent’s responsibility to take an interest and have their say in the running of their children’s school to ensure that the school provides the best possible quality of education to all its learners . . .

“Don’t stand back. Get involved in your child’s schooling and make a difference.”

Ndaba said it is the duty of parents or members of the community to serve in any way they can in the SGBs in order to give “our children . . . a better future and contribute towards the strengthening of South African society”.

Those interested can make their voices heard by offering to stand in the elections as possible SGB members or by nominating the best candidates for the polls and making sure that they vote on the election day.

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Parts of Free State may not have power for up to three weeks

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PROLONGED BLACKOUT LOOMS . . . Eskom says consumers in some parts of the Free State may not have electricity for up to three weeks

Eskom has warned consumers in the south-eastern Free State that they may not have electricity for up to three weeks due to voltage constraints on the network feeding the Melkspruit Substation.

The power failure resulted in electricity users in Zastron, Rouxville and Smithfield as well as those fed directly by Eskom on the RVZ and RVS 22 kV lines experiencing outages over the past weekend.

Eskom’s spokesperson in the Free State, Stefanie Jansen van Rensburg, said the problem may persist until major work on a line from the Northern Cape is completed.

“The voltage constraint on the network will persist until construction of structures on the Ruigtevallei-Valleydora 132 kV line in the Northern Cape is completed,” said Van Rensburg as she urged consumers to remain patient while the supply challenge is addressed.

“Free State teams are currently assisting to speed up the process. It is however expected that work will take two to three weeks to complete.”

“In the meantime, electricity users are urged to use electricity sparingly, especially during the morning and evening peak hours, to prevent trips,” she added.

South Africa has been experiencing rolling blackouts in recent weeks due to what Eskom has described a “continued shortage of generation capacity”.

On Sunday, the national power utility said in a separate statement it had about 3 028 megawatts on planned maintenance, while another 14 992 megawatts of capacity were unavailable due to breakdowns.

While the loadshedding is meant to ease pressure on the national grid and avoid a total collapse of the system, the practice has reportedly caused damage on some lines when power is switched back on.

Eskom has always said loadshedding is implemented only as a last resort to protect the national grid and promised to limit the implementation of loadshedding to the evening peak in order to limit the impact of the capacity shortages on the public. – Staff Reporter

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Minister shuts down troubled Free State water supplier

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MOVE GAZETTED . . . Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu has disestablished Sedibeng Water

Staff and key assets from the embattled Sedibeng Water Board are set to be transferred to the Bloemwater and Magalies water boards following the gazetting of the move by Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu last week.

The department’s spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau, said in a statement the development is in line with the minister’s commitment to review the country’s water boards to enable them to perform optimally while enhancing the delivery of water to municipalities and ultimately to households.

The decision to disestablish Sedibeng Water – which served Matjhabeng, Masilonyana and Nala local municipalities, among others – means its staff, assets and liabilities will be absorbed by Bloemwater in the Free State and Magalies in Gauteng.

The move, according to Ratau, was initiated by the minister following his working sessions with provincial governments, various water services authorities and water boards regarding issues of governance, financial viability as well as accountability and broader service delivery issues after taking office in August last year.

“The review is based on considerations of financial sustainability, servicing areas that are not currently serviced and is also intended to address institutional confusion caused by having multiple water boards serving the same area,” said Ratau.

“The disestablishment of Sedibeng Water is in accordance with section 28 of the Water Services Act of 1997 which affords Minister Mchunu the authority to disestablish a water board.

“The gazette was published on Friday, 20 May 2022 and will remain open to the public for a period of 40 days.

“Members of the public and all interested parties are invited to make comments in writing on the disestablishment of the board.”

The department said it will ensure there is smooth transition of the disestablishment and that water service provision to communities is not affected.

Based in Bothaville, Sedibeng Water was established to, among others, treat wastewater and supply potable water in a viabile and sustainable manner.

However, in recent years, some of the municipalities served by the water board have struggled over the years to pay on time for the bulk water supplies even though residents have argued that they pay their monthly bills on time.

At the end of March this year, Sedibeng reportedly owed its service providers over R5-billion as it was struggling to secure payment from several municipalities. – Staff Reporter

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Mangaung warns residents to brace for heavy rainfall

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DISRUPTIVE DOWNPOUR LOOMING . . . Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has warned heavy rainfall is expected to pound the capital

The Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has warned residents in and around the Free State capital to brace for heavy rainfall that could cause flooding this Friday.

The municipality is urging drivers to take extra caution by reducing speed and switching their headlights on, while pedestrians are being reminded to be careful when crossing the road and to avoid crossing rivers and streams where water is above the ankles.

“Residents of Mangaung Metro, particularly in the former Naledi region, are urged to be cautious on the road and in their homes as the South African Weather Service has issued an impact-based warning . . . for possible disruptive rainfall,” the metro said in a statement.

“This warning is valid for Friday, 20 May 2022 until Saturday, 21 May 2022.”

“Heavy rains are also predicted in Bloemfontein on Friday,” it added.

“Localised flooding can be expected in susceptible low-lying areas, roads, formal/informal settlements and bridges.” – Staff Reporter

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