Cosatu concerned over DA shirts at school
Cape Town - The humble election freebie - the T-shirt - set off a flurry of press comment on Wednesday as the Congress of SA Trade Unions in the Western Cape accused the DA of forcing schoolchildren to wear its brand during a hockey match.
"Cosatu is outraged at the DA violating children's rights at a school in Overberg High in Caledon, by forcing children to wear DA sweaters during school activities," said Tony Ehrenreich whom the ANC has nominated as its candidate for Cape Town mayor should it oust the DA there in the local government elections.
Cosatu wanted the Independent Electoral Commission and the education department to investigate the matter, in the light of education department policy to ban political activity at schools.
"... or does this not apply to DA supporters," asked Ehrenreich.
The Democratic Alliance, not immediately knowing specific details about the alleged incident, said there should be no political activity at schools but they would look into it.
The principal of the school was not available to comment, but within half an hour the DA sent an e-mail to say that the T-shirts were given in response to a request for a donation.
"The first hockey team asked the DA for a donation of shirts, as they did with other businesses in the area," said Bronagh Casey, spokesperson for the province's Education MEC Donald Grant, by e-mail.
"The shirts were voluntarily worn by the girls at their practice session yesterday [Tuesday] around 16:00. Once the principal was made aware of the situation they were asked to replace the shirts," she wrote, adding that Cosatu was politicising the issue to promote its own political agendas.
Ehrenreich referred further queries to Jonavon Rustin, provincial secretary of the SA Democratic Teachers' Union, who after listening to the DA's explanation and being offered a chance to counter-comment, said they accepted the DA's explanation that the children were not forced.
"It's fine, we accept that."
But, he added: "The DA should know it as well that it cannot give T-shirts to learners at school. If they asked for a donation they should have given them plain T-shirts."
He said the amended Schools Act for the province prohibited political posters, T-shirts, branding of cars, branding on the wires, branding in the classrooms.
"The DA knows this, these are the rules of engagement. They shouldn't have given the T-shirts to the kids in the first place. It's fine for after school, but not [on] school premises...why not give the kids plain unbranded T-shirts?
"You can advertise at school," he continued. "But political activities are not allowed. You can advertise KFC because that is income-generating, but there must be no political activities."