Govt shocked, disappointed in Sadtu

2013-04-25 22:28

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Johannesburg - Government says it is shocked and disappointed at the behaviour of Sadtu members who publicly displayed a piece of underwear attributed to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

"This kind of behaviour is degrading, disrespectful, and infringes the rights of women which are enshrined in our hard fought for Constitution," acting government spokesperson Phumla Williams said on Thursday.

"It is very worrying that such acts appear to be socially normalised and accepted. While South Africans enjoy the freedom to protest, they must exercise this freedom within the confines of the law and uphold the values of our Constitution."

Williams said the Constitution promoted human dignity, human rights, freedom, non-racialism and non-sexism and that the teachers should lead by example.

She said that when the piece of underclothing was displayed and attributed to Motshekga it was an infringement of her right to human dignity and non-sexism, and was demeaning.

"It is very ironic that the trade unions who played an important role in the liberation struggle of our country and in particular the drafting of the Constitution are the very ones that are degrading the hard fought for freedoms."

On Wednesday, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) supported the SA Democratic Teachers' Union's (Sadtu) demands during protest marches to the Union Buildings in Pretoria and Parliament in Cape Town.


Sadtu members have been on a national go-slow since pupils returned from the Easter holiday.

The union is calling for the resignation of Motshekga and her director general Bobby Soobrayan.

Meanwhile, the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) said teachers needed professional pay for professional work done and a decent working environment.

"The ACDP agrees with Sadtu that the education department should urgently address corruption, seriously sub-standard conditions and overcrowding in our poorer schools, and the grievances of substitute teachers; but believes that teachers should march on school holidays and not call on children to join them," Gauteng leader Lydia Meshoe said.

"Teaching should be made an essential service and educators should not be allowed to strike, but they should also be remunerated and treated accordingly."

Meshoe said teachers should be allowed to administer "responsible corporal correction" to restore discipline to pupils.

The Congress of the People (Cope) said it was appalled at government's lack of vision and seriousness in the department of education.

Cope spokesperson on higher education, Nqhaba Bhanga, said the behaviour of Sadtu showed a total undermining of the rights of South African children to be educated.


"The South African child and mostly township children in poor areas who already suffer from high teacher absenteeism and sexual violence in their schools, remain at the receiving end," he said in a statement.

"We call upon the union federations who lead a large majority of their members who are from these constituencies to be shown mature leadership and sensitivity."

Bhanga said Sadtu should leave the children to learn because they were on a "dangerous slippery slope" if they fought for political recognition and influence.

Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said the protest was not about teachers "expressing frustration" with Motshekga but a union "flexing its political muscles".

"I have sympathy with teachers and I understand the role of collective bargaining. I am, by no means, opposed to trade unions," said Buthelezi.

"But unions have been overrun by politicians and politics, and now unions like Sadtu have the power to hold us to ransom, because an ANC-led government cares more about retaining their support than about prioritising education."

He said the African National Congress-led government had a need to please the alliance partners.

The current generation of teachers who went on strike was the generation of pupils who were taught by the ANC to burn down schools and disrupt education in the hope of overthrowing the government, and now the ANC was "bearing the brunt of its own tactics", he said.

"Sadtu is wrong to believe that a different ANC minister would do things differently. The minister is not just a minister, but an ANC minister," said Buthelezi.

"Thus if Sadtu really wants things to change in our education system, and in the daily experiences of our teachers, they need to change their vote."

Read more on:    cope  |  sadtu  |  anc  |  acdp  |  ifp  |  angie motshekga  |  mangosuthu buthelezi  |  education  |  strikes

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