Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Friday, May 18, 2007

Khutsong Explained
I must admit that I hadn't been following the unrest in Khutsong very closely over the past few years, and when I thought about it, had little knowledge of what the antecedents of the violence were. So I did a little bit of catch-up, and for those of you who, like me, were a little behind, here's a study guide.

Essentially, the town of Khutsong near Carltonville has been part of the Gauteng province until recently, when Government took the decision to rezone the town into the poorer North West Province in early 2006. What this means for the people of Khutsong, is a potential lack of access to the much wealthier Gauteng local goverment, with its resultant support in terms of schooling and other public services.

Studies have shown that 90% of Khutsong residents do not support a move from Gauteng to the North West Province. Of particular concern has been in terms of schooling, where residents believe the Gauteng schooling system (including a Gauteng government-funded Gauteng Online system) is far more advanced than that of the North West. Teachers have gone on a go-slow, students have rioted, and general lawlessness has taken over. Local and national government has not seemingly handled the situation very well (sending letters of suspension to protesting teachers, for one example), which has further fanned the flames of unrest.

Residents have felt disenchanted with the fact that there was no consultation with them on a decision which fundamentally affects their daily lives. Such was this disenchantment that only 123 votes were cast in the March 2006 municipal elections. At present the town leaders are taking the issue to the Constitutional Court, where the matter will be heard in the coming months.