Parliament’s botching of BELA public hearings in Mpumalanga allow ANC to capture process

Issued by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP – DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education
19 Mar 2023 in News

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

Despite repeated warnings by the DA that the ANC is trying to capture the public participation process of the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill, this is exactly what has transpired this weekend.

The DA will be writing to the National Assembly House Chairperson, Cedric Frolick, to inform him of breached processes regarding the public participation process and to request an investigation. We will also request the postponement of further hearings until Parliament gets its ducks in a row.

On Friday, the Chair of the parliamentary portfolio committee on basic education, Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, informed committee members that this weekend’s public hearings would proceed without the necessary support from Parliament’s public education office as they were short staffed.

This meant that the normal procedure for public hearings was not followed and that Parliament did not scout the communities the week before to identify and arrange suitable venues, nor did they communicate with the communities and stakeholders to educate them on the Bill and mobilise them to attend the hearings.

Instead, the whole weekend’s arrangements and communication were shouldered by the Chair’s team – and the attempts to present public sentiment in a particular light is clear as day.

The weekend’s hearings were one fiasco after another.

Today’s public hearing was cancelled at the last minute, because venue and time changes led to confusion and robbed the Ermelo-communities of an opportunity make their voices heard.

The hearings on Friday in Bushbuckridge contained merely a handful of actual community members – the majority of participants were bussed in ANC-members from other communities.

While the hearings in Kanyamazane were better represented by the communities, that was largely due to independent advertising of the meetings by stakeholders and the DA. Had it not been for that, the ANC would have completely undermined the community’s voice there as well.

Parliament’s botching of the BELA Bill participation process has left the door wide open for the ANC’s capture. It seems the governing party will do whatever it takes to bulldoze the draconian BELA Bill through Parliament and rob communities and school governing boards (SGBs) of their rights to determine their own language and admission policies.

The ANC has made its disdain for public participation clear – this will continue when communities later try to oppose damaging polices inflicted by the Department of Basic Education.

The DA will not stand for such subterfuge. We believe in democratic Parliamentary processes and the rights of communities to determine how to best meet their children’s education needs. We will not stop fighting the ANC’s attempts to capture the public hearings.