Pro-Afrikaans candidates win Maties landslide

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Mar 28 13:39:36 UTC 2006

Pro-Afrikaans candidates win Maties landslide

By Karen Breytenbach

Four champions of Afrikaans as the primary teaching language at
Stellenbosch University have been voted onto its council in a landslide
victory over proponents of bilingual teaching. However, this will not have
an immediate effect on the university's language policy. Four vacancies
needed to be filled in the 30-seat council by having the convocation of
graduates and current and former academic staff vote for three, while
donors could fill one position.

Giliomee, Spies and Viljoen together won about 75 percent of the votes The
four-year terms of convocation-elected businessmen Christo Wiese and
Ritzema de la Bat and Carte Blanche presenter Ruda Landman end on April 1.
Landman, Wiese, historian Hermann Giliomee, Afrikaans and Dutch professor
Lina Spies, former Dean of Engineering Christo Viljoen and banker Michiel
le Roux stood as candidates. Giliomee, Spies and Viljoen together won
about 75 percent of the votes in last week's election.

The pro-Afrikaans group's stalwart, Jacko Maree, beat council
vice-chairperson Gerhard van Niekerk as the donors' council member. The
four said their victory had given them "a powerful mandate to promote
Afrikaans as primary academic and scientific language", but as a small
group they would need other council members to support them. "The outcome
is not a victory for individuals, but for Afrikaans and transformation
within and through Afrikaans, and for bilingualism or multilingualism on
condition that Afrikaans has a stable, indisputable base, from where it
can develop and so promote cultural pluralism in this country," they
stated in a press release.

Council chairperson Edwin Hertzog said this had been an important and
interesting election because language played a strong role in what was one
of the most fiercely contested elections in years. Fears of English
domination were sparked when the faculty of arts extended its dual-medium
T-Option for teaching in English and Afrikaans at undergraduate level.
Giliomee and his supporters called the T-Option the "slippery slope to
Anglicisation", while its supporters defended it as vital in the rapidly
globalising world.

Debate was encouraged by Hertzog, who said: "It is part of the nature and
essence of a university that we state our points of view in the spirit of
open debate... (and) subject them to critical discussion." Arts faculty
dean Hennie Kotze said the election of four pro-Afrikaans candidates did
not mean the university's language policy would change overnight. A new
language committee would need to complete a report on the issue by June.
Then proposals would have to go back and forth between the senate,
faculties and council before there could be any changes.

This article was originally published on page 1 of The Cape Times on March
27, 2006

Published on the Web by IOL on 2006-03-27 01:23:00

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