Zille: Angie is doing a good job

2013-07-21 14:00

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DA leader Helen Zille has emerged as an unlikely defender of Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

While nongovernmental organisations and teachers union Sadtu have been calling for Motshekga’s head, and her own party has been critical of her, Zille said

Motshekga was actually doing a good job.

“We have never experienced a minister like Angie who knows what the hell needs to be done, has the guts to do it and then has to do it on her own,” said Zille.

She told City Press that Motshekga, a trained teacher, had experience of teaching in a “disadvantaged classroom”.

The DA leader drew gasps from her audience when she publicly defended Motshekga at a packed DA Young Professionals gathering in Rosebank, north of Joburg, on Tuesday. She said Motshekga was the first minister to recognise that poor teacher discipline was the real problem.

Zille prefaced her defence by saying she herself had been an education MEC (in the Western Cape, from 1999 until 2004) and knew how little power the minister had.

The national government was confined to drawing up policy and regulations, she later told City Press.

“Provinces have extensive powers to pass and implement their own laws. And provinces actually run the school system.”

She said Motshekga had fulfilled her constitutional responsibilities more than any of her predecessors.

Zille said the draft norms and standards on state-of-the-art infrastructure, which Motshekga inherited from her predecessor, Naledi Pandor, were “idealistic” and didn’t take reality or spending into account.

And “red tape” prevented her from finalising new norms and standards before the June 15 deadline. This led to a court order forcing Motshekga to implement them.

Asked whether the opposition leader’s endorsement would not cast her in a bad light in her own party, Motshekga said: “I don’t want compliments from people who don’t understand and do it for the wrong reason. Helen has an interest in the sector. It is a compliment coming from someone who knows what she is talking about.”

Read Zille's full defence of Motshekga here.

» Talk to us: Is Helen Zille's endorsement of Motshekga a kiss of death for the minister?

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