Public cannot be barred from public BELA hearings – DA encourages communities to attend FS hearings this weekend

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

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

The DA has been inundated with very worrying complaints that Departmental structures are dictating who is allowed to participate in the public hearings for the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill.

The DA has seen letters by the Director of the Thabo Mofutsanyana Education District in the Free State to Chief Education Specialists (CESs), Circuit Managers, principals, chairpersons of school governing bodies (SCBs), and unions trying to persuade principals into ensuring that only they and SGB chairpersons attend the public hearings.

This use of State machinery to curtail public comment about the unpopular, draconian Bill is wholly unconstitutional. Public hearings are just that – public. They are to ensure that government receive input from all stakeholders on proposed legislation, in this case, parents, teachers, all members of SGBs, community members, education stakeholders, and organisations that wish to give input.

No member of the public that wishes to attend the meeting and give their input may be barred access.

Another concern is the fact that at some of the information sessions for the public hearings happening this weekend in the Free State, participants were told to Google the Bill as the Department failed to provide more than one printed copy, and that only selected clauses of the Bill were under discussion and some of them presented in a manner that dissuaded objective input from attendees.

The DA’s letter to the chairperson requesting clarity on a number of issues regarding the public participation process of the Bill has gone unanswered.

We have yet to receive answers regarding the advertisement of the hearings in the provinces, and our questions about the hand delivered submissions.

However, the DA will continue to flag our concerns regarding the Bill and the public participation process on every platform available to us. The Bill has a number of concerning clauses that will disempower SGBs and communities from making decisions about the education of their children.

It seems that the ANC is trying to push the BELA Bill through by hook or crook to further break our children’s education by capturing public participation.

The DA strongly encourages parents, SGB members, teachers, education stakeholders and communities to voice their concerns at the next round of BELA hearings in the Free State. No member of the Department, the ANC, or the public may stop another member of the public from participating in a public hearing.

Date Area Education District Venue Time
Friday, 3 March Koffiefontein Xhariep Education District Phuthaditjhaba Multi-Purpose Centre 14:30 – 18:30
Saturday, 4 March Thaba Nchu Mofutsanyana Education District Koffiefontein Multi-Purpose Centre 14:30 – 18:30
Sunday, 5 March Bloemfontein Motheo Education District Simson Sefuthi Community Hall (Botshabelo) 14:30 – 18:30