[lg policy] Motshekga in a bid to persuade Lesufi to let go of the Hoërskool Overvaal court appeal
haroldfs at gmail.com
Tue Jan 30 11:53:01 EST 2018
Motshekga in a bid to persuade Lesufi to let go of the Hoërskool Overvaal
January 30, 2018
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minister Angie Motshekga. Source: GCIS
Sharp differences have emerged between basic education minister, Angie
Motshekga, and her provincial counterpart, Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi over
the Hoêrskool Overvaal debacle.
This raises concerns about whether the problem will be resolved anytime
soon if the two education authorities view the matter differently. Both
have expressed their frustrations about the on-going protest at the school.
But Lesufi took what others describe as a hardline position vowing to
pursue the matter all the way to the Constitutional Court if need be, while
Motshekga struck a reconciliatory tone.
Lesufi strongly feels Judge Bill Prinsloo was biased when he found in
favour of the school, saying a different judge would arrive have placed the
55 learners who are at the centre of the dispute.
“We will appeal this decision all the way to the Constitutional Court if
necessary. We want to see if the Constitutional Court will also legalise
racism,” Lesufi said. He also described the ruling as devastating and a
major setback for the transformation agenda.
The Federation of Governing Bodies of South Africa (Fedsas) and the South
African Teachers’ Union (Saou) blamed the current standoff at the school on
Lesufi’s alleged political statements following the ruling. They said he
played to the gallery and to deliberately inflame political emotions adding
that the whole issue has been turned into a political football match.
Political formations such as the local ANC, ANCYL, Economic Freedom
Fighters, including Congress of South African Students (Cosas) and South
African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) staged protests outside the
school’s gates accusing the school management of racism.
Yesterday Motshekga called for the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) to
reconsider its stance to appeal. She said the ruling issue was not
necessarily about the language policy but more about an administrative
“I said [to the province] let us not necessarily go and fight. This school
belongs to us; the schooling is not resisting to have a parallel medium. It
is a resource issue,” she told eNCA.
Motshekga added: “the judge is not raising the issue that English-speaking
children can’t attend Afrikaans school or policy issues. The judge is
raising administrative errors…let’s deal with them and see if we can
She said she agreed the GDE was under pressure to place learners and that
by ordering the school to place the 55 grade 8 learners, the government is
not violating the language rights to use Afrikaans. She said there was
place for every language in the country and that they invested so much in
“There are more people who are not white who speak Afrikaans. There has
been a lot of investment in those languages and we don’t want to throw that
away,” she said.
But the GDE is adamant to appeal the ruling with MEC Lesufi saying he would
not back down until he won the case. Motshekga is under pressure to resolve
the impasse and normalises the situation at the school as soon as possible
so that the tension does not spill into the classroom. It is believed a
meeting is on the cards so that both Motshekga and MEC can harmonise their
views on the matter.
And that is just how far she can go. In terms of the Constitution, she was
not allowed to intervene as provinces are autonomous from the national
departments. The only way ministers can intervene is when the lower
structure fails to discharge one of its Constitutional obligations. The
minister can then invoke Section 100 of the Constitution which empowers the
national executive to intervene in in order to remedy the situation. And
indications are it may not reach this stage at least for now.
Harold F. Schiffman
Professor Emeritus of
Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305
Phone: (215) 898-7475
Fax: (215) 573-2138
Email: haroldfs at gmail.com
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