DA exposes planned ANC coup against school governing bodies

Issued by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP – DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education
13 Feb 2022 in News

Note to Editors: Please find an attached soundbite by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP

The DA is alarmed by the latest version of the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill. The Bill, which was submitted to Parliament in December last year, is set to carry out a coup against the parents and children of South Africa by usurping the powers of school governing bodies to determine the admissions and language policies of schools in their communities, and by enhancing the powers of ANC cadres to merge and to rename merged schools.

By robbing governing bodies of these powers, the Department of Basic Education plans to centralise control over public schools not in the hands of the communities and parents who know what is best for their children, but in the hands of ANC cadres like Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

Should the Bill be passed, the national Department of Basic Education, led by Minister Angie Motshekga, will be handing a loaded weapon to the likes of Lesufi to finish off the war he has long waged against governing bodies and mother-tongue education.


  • Section 4 of the Bill empowers officials and MECs to amend the admissions policies of any of the 24 000 public schools in the country;
  • Section 5 of the Bill – the “Lesufi clause” – gives MECs like Panyaza Lesufi what he has always yearned for: the power to change the language policy of any of the thousands of public schools in the country and to direct any public school to change its language(s) of instruction; and
  • Section 13 of the Bill gives officials and MECs the power to merge and name any merged public school in South Africa.

Although the Bill lays out a number of procedural steps to be followed in each of these cases, it explicitly stipulates that “the final authority” vests not in the school community, but in HODs and MECs like Lesufi. In cases where governing bodies or communities are unhappy with changes to their school policies, they only have the right to appeal to the same MEC who leads the very department forcing these changes upon them. In other words, MECs like Lesufi will become both player and referee.

Lesufi’s shameful track record of agitating against governing bodies and mother-tongue education to distract from his failure to fix the Gauteng education system is the perfect example of why it would be a costly mistake to give ANC cadres absolute power over our schools and the education of our children. There can be little doubt that Lesufi will abuse these powers from day one to further politicise education, side-line school governing bodies, and eradicate the Afrikaans-language schools he despises so much.

Outside of the DA-run Western Cape, South Africa’s basic education system is in crisis. The roots of this crisis lie in the fact that the ANC and its allies, including the South African Democratic Teachers’ Association (SADTU), have captured and corrupted the education system to serve their political interests. In many cases, school governing bodies and involved local communities serve as the final bulwark against the outright collapse of the education system. Year after year, the top performing public schools in the country are those where local communities work together to empower learners to excel, not because of, but in spite of, cadres like Lesufi.

In cases where governing bodies are struggling, the solution is to support them to perform their important duties, rather than neutering them. The correct response to underperforming schools is also not to try and punish schools that are delivering good results, but to fix struggling schools by providing better funding, standing up to SADTU, and enforcing accountability mechanisms for teachers to ensure that all learners receive a quality education. And in cases where governing bodies unfairly discriminate against learners, those specific governing bodies must be held accountable rather than giving politicians sweeping powers over the admissions and language policies of all 24 000 public schools in South Africa.

Sacrificing the futures of our children at the altar of ANC ideological control is a price too ghastly to contemplate, and the DA calls on all South Africans to join us in rejecting this planned coup against the children and schools of our country.