'Let me be clear, I will make no apology' - Lesufi responds to FF Plus on Afrikaans schools

2018-10-26 22:57
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi. (Christopher Moagi, Daily Sun)

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi. (Christopher Moagi, Daily Sun)

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Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says he will not apologise for asking an "underutilised school" offering tuition in Afrikaans, to teach in another language instead.

This was Lesufi's response to Gauteng legislature integrity commissioner Dr Ralph Mgijima after the Freedom Front Plus' (FF+) Adriaan van Staden, lodged a complaint insinuating that Lesufi wanted to abolish Afrikaans at schools.

In a 48-page response, Lesufi pointed out that he in no way breached any constitutional or legislative provisions.

"Let me be clear, I will make no apology for requesting an underutilised school that only teaches in Afrikaans and where there is a sufficient demand, as per the Norms and Standards of Language Policy in Public Schools, referred to above, to provide tuition in another language," Lesufi was quoted as saying. 

In a statement, Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona said it was noted that Lesufi had seen it necessary, important and duty bound to respond to Van Staden's allegations.

But he added that the allegations were baseless and founded on paranoia and the manipulation of information to achieve an electoral advantage for the party. 

Read: 'This is petty politics' - Lesufi on FF+ charges against him

Mabona said Lesufi's response was filed with the integrity commissioner.

In it, he denied in the strongest terms the allegation that he was in any way prejudiced against the Afrikaans language, against Afrikaners, or against any other minority, in any form.

"On the contrary, the MEC's actions on numerous occasions over the years confirm his commitment to the Constitution of South Africa and the rights of all citizens enshrined in that Constitution," Mabona said. 

He added that it was concerning that there the FF+ provided no evidence to support its allegations. 

"This was deliberately intended to misrepresent the situation and to portray MEC Lesufi as being on a crusade against the Afrikaans language or Afrikaans schools whereas, in fact, there is absolutely no evidence to support that allegation," the statement read. 

Mabona added that it was the department's mandate that, where situations occurred in areas where the racial demographics were changing in terms of residency or employment, it was completely logical. The department was also obliged to provide education to pupils as close as possible to where they lived or where parents or guardians were employed. 

In his response, Lesufi also touched on, among others, the Hoërskool Overvaal court case as well as the case of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas), which were in van Staden's complaint.

According to Lesufi the complaint said that the high court's decision that Hoërskool Overvaal did not have to admit 55 English-speaking pupils, confirmed the "political games being played by the Gauteng Department of Education is only to the detriment of both white and black [pupils]". 

The party said in its complaint that "with this judgment, the court confirmed that the Gauteng Department of Education [is] manipulating the educational system in such a way that racial polarisation becomes inevitable at Afrikaans schools..."

Also read: Clash continues between FF Plus and Lesufi over Afrikaans in schools

However Lesufi responded that van Staden made several inferences from the judgment "which do not hold water".

"While it may have been found that the instruction given to Hoërskool Overvaal to admit 55 English-speaking [pupils] constituted a reviewable decision, nowhere in the judgment is it said or implied that the [Gauteng education department], or any of its representatives, were playing political games or manipulating the education system," Lesufi says in the response.

Regarding the Fedsas court case the complaint said: "In May 2015, the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools won a court case against MEC Lesufi. This court case followed on the MEC's attempts to force Afrikaans schools to admit English-speaking [pupils]."

"The court's decision in this case already proves that the MECs actions were unlawful and violated Section 29 of the Constitution”

However, Lesufi labelled the statements "untrue".

"While it may be the case that the High Court ruled in favour of Fedsas, what Mr Van Staden conveniently fails to mention is that this outcome was appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal and overturned," Lesufi said.

Read more on:    panyaza lesufi  |  education

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