ABOUT 300 women who run day care centers in Cape Town townships marched to Parliament on Wednesday protesting against the creche registration processes practiced by the provincial Department of Social Development.
Chanting songs and holding placards, the women, some of them heavily pregnant, the women wore red t-shirts with Western Cape Early Childhood Development, United Network Organisation (UNO) written on the back.
Speaking outside Parliament UNO assistant secretary Fazlyn Ajam said the women came from 30 townships in the Cape Town Metropole and were protesting against the “unfair practices” of the city and the department in regard to the compulsory registration of crèches.
She said rather than improving matters, the drive to ensure the registration of all facilities looking after more than six children had worsened matters.
“We are opposed to many decisions made by the provincial department of social development and the city provincial government and we are seeking assistance from the national government,” she said.
She said while crèche owners were eager to do what they could to formally register as Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers with the necessary authorities, closure notices had been handed to all creches operating in Wendy houses and shipping containers even though they met with minimum safety requirements.
Zoning was another issue as the city had not reached consensus on which properties were classified as formal and informal, she said.
Creches could not afford the increased rates, water and electricity that accompanied businesses zoning, said Ajam. The language used by the authorities in letters and notices to crèche owners was also not acceptable, she said, as they were complicated, and in English.
“They send letters in English, many African people don’t understand it. We want them to communicate in various languages,” said Ajam.
The drive to register crèches follows the death of two children in unregistered crèches last year. In February, then Social Development MEC Patricia de Lille announced an amnesty for unregistered crèches until July in order for them to upgrade their facilities.
Once a crèche is registered with the department they need to apply to legally run the facility, submitting approved building plans where appropriate and provide a health clearance certificate.
But the crèche owners in front of Parliament said the process was not properly explained and communication from the department was lacking.
Cynthia Daniels, 62, who has been running a creche for 13-years in Belhar which caters for 45 children between the ages of 18- months and five-years-old, said they were being abused by the city and department of social development.
“The department does with us as it pleases,” she said.
Daniels also complained about the department’s grant-in-aid subsidy allocated to Early Child Development (ECD) Centres, saying the subsidy of R12 per child was “too little”. Other provinces received R15 per child, she said.
“In ECD we have got to feed the child irrespective of whether the parents pays (fees) or not. They have got to be educated and fed,” said Daniels.
National department of social development spokesperson Lumka Oliphant acknowledged receipt of the UNO’s memorandum promised to look into the matter. — Peter Luhanga