[lg policy] Lesufi denies prejudice against Afrikaners or Afrikaans - Gauteng DoE

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Sat Oct 27 10:12:18 EDT 2018

Lesufi denies prejudice against Afrikaners or Afrikaans - Gauteng DoE
Steve Mabona |
26 October 2018
MEC's actions over past few years confirm his commitment to rights of all
SAns, says dept

*MEC Lesufi unapologetic for his quest to provide education in another

In his response today, 26 October 2018, to the Gauteng Legislature
Integrity Commissioner Dr Ralph Mgijima, on a complaint lodged by a fellow
Member of the Provincial Legislature (MPL) for the Freedom Front Plus
(“FFP”), Mr Philippus Adriaan van Staden, who insinuated that MEC Panyaza
Lesufi is prejudiced against the Afrikaans language and incited racial
tension amongst racial groups, particularly minorities, MEC Lesufi
confirmed that, in no way, that he breached any Constitutional or
legislative provisions, as alleged by the FFP in its complaint.

It must be noted that MEC Lesufi saw it necessary, important and duty bound
to respond to the allegations made by Mr van Staden, particularly in view
of the fact that such allegations are baseless and founded on paranoia and
the manipulation of information to achieve an electoral advantage for the
FFP and the response has been filed with  the integrity commissioner in
terms of which the MEC  denies in the strongest terms, the allegation that
he is 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.

It is concerning that no corroborating evidence was provided by the FFP to
support such damning allegations.  Where evidence or corroboration was
provided by Mr van Staden in relation to an allegation, as is apparent from
the above, in most of cases, the corroboration was false.

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.

Our bone of contention is that, where situations occur in areas where the
racial demographics are changing in terms of residency and/or employment,
it is completely logical, and the obligation of the department, to supply
education to those learners as close as possible to their place of
residence and/or their parents’ or guardians’ place of employment.

In this regard, it should be noted that there are numerous areas which,
because of apartheid residential segregation, were largely white, and in
certain instances Afrikaans, that are now changing as more black citizens
and/or families have moved into these areas or are employed in these areas,
and which would entitle them to apply to the local school in that area.  In
such instances, and as discussed above, when there are enough applications
from learners who wish to be taught in English, schools may not refuse to
accommodate learners on the basis that they are only prepared to teach in

Surely, where the school is already full in terms of the required
learner-teacher ratio and the infrastructure of the school is fully
utilised, there may well be an argument to suggest that the school cannot
take additional learners even if there are sufficient learners applying to
be taught in a language other than that taught in by the school.  The
issues of capacity in schools and the utilisation of infrastructure is one
which is a challenge both for the schools and for the department, which has
a Constitutional obligation to provide education to all learners who
qualify for that education.

This challenge is not restricted to Afrikaans schools and also exists in
relation to English schools which the department may request to admit more
learners where that is appropriate and justified.

“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.  I am
simply not able to allow underutilised schools that teach in a single
medium of instruction not to open their doors to learners who require an
education, which I have a constitutional obligation to provide.  In taking
these necessary steps, I must comply with the Constitution and the
applicable regulatory framework, and I have always done so.  In relation to
the allegation that there is a campaign being waged against the language
policies of Afrikaans schools, I can confirm that in the past two months I
have approved the language policies of approximately 98% of the Afrikaans
schools that applied for the approval of their language policies. These
policies would never have been approved if, as Mr van Staden contends, the
Afrikaans language policies of Afrikaans schools were under attack”, said
MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

The MEC’s responses to the allegations of Mr van Staden have been clustered
into categories and topics as set out in the attached document.

*Statement issued by Gauteng Department of Education Spokesperson, Steve
Mabona, 26 October 2018*


 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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