Racist Lesufi must renounce BELA comments immediately

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

Please find attached an English soundbite by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP, and an Afrikaans soundbite by Desiree van der Walt MP, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Education.

The DA calls on Panyaza Lesufi, MEC for Education in Gauteng, to formally renounce his position and comments on the BELA bill which seeks to scapegoat Afrikaans and mother tongue education.

It is clear that Lesufi plans to use the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) bill for his racial crusade to vilify Afrikaans in schools. This bill, which seeks to remove the powers of School Governing Bodies (SGBs) and, after an appeal, leave them at the mercy of MECs like Lesufi, is only a tool to further discriminate against Afrikaans as a language and its speakers.

Effectively, under BELA, heads of provincial education departments and MECs for Education will, after appeal, make the final decision on admissions and language policies of schools – and not SGBs.

This will arm Lesufi in his fight against single medium (especially Afrikaans) schools and allow him to ramp up his crusade against Afrikaans speakers, something which he has unashamedly turned into a racial matter by vilifying certain races. Consequentially, mother tongue education will suffer and will lead to Afrikaans learners being forced to learn and study in English.

This is not the first time Lesufi blatantly attacked Afrikaans.

  • In September 2019, Lesufi openly incited racism when he criticized an Afrikaans university being built as “racist” and “a reminder of apartheid”. The DA rejects the generalisation that Afrikaans belong to white people only. Lesufi fails to see that 77% of coloured South Africans are also first language speakers.
  • In April 2018, Lesufi removed the Afrikaans option from the online schools application system, causing widespread chaos among learners and parents. At the time, Fedsas reportedly equated Lesufi’s unfair pressure on Afrikaans as “pouring petrol on a flammable situation”.
  • In December 2016, Lesufi again tried to aggravate and provoke racial tensions when he called two Afrikaans medium schools – Montana and Overkruin – racist due to their apparent reluctancy to admit learners who do not understand Afrikaans. Lesufi vowed to remove the powers of the SGBs and reportedly said “he” is there to “reverse everything Hendrik Verwoerd has done”.

It is clear that Lesufi has long been maintaining the stance that all Afrikaans speakers are racists and that Afrikaans should be removed as a medium from schools. What is now apparent is that he is using a systematic way, by means of the BELA bill, to formally rid Afrikaans from schools. The DA believes in mother tongue education for all young learners and strongly opposes Lesufi and his racist tendencies.

Lesufi must be stopped in his tracks.

The DA calls on every South African citizen to join us and sign our petition against this draconian bill. Over 13 000 people have already signed the DA’s Afrikaans and English petitions against the bill.

The bill will significantly change the education landscape and will be destructive to quality mother tongue education for decades to come. Therefore, over the coming months, we will consult with experts and the public to present rational alternatives to the BELA bill, as well as continuing to engage with the bill in Parliament.