BELA BILL: ANC places cheap electioneering above our children’s education

Issued by Baxolile Nodada MP – DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education
16 May 2024 in News

The following remarks were delivered by the DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education, Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP, in a declaration before the vote on the BELA Bill in the National Assembly today:

Yesterday, the ANC sacrificed the futures of countless generations for cheap electioneering by bulldozing the BELA Bill through Parliament.

Instead of engaging in meaningful discussions about the widespread implications of the Bill and the changes made by the National Council of Provinces, the ANC chairperson refused to follow Parliamentary protocol and denied opposing parties’ right to include thorough inputs to the changes. She booted me out of the meeting for raising valid concerns and her ANC majority adopted a Bill full of mistakes without interrogating its final version.

It seems the closer it gets to 29 May, the more desperate the ANC is to try and convince the public they’ve looted and undermined for 30 years that they actually care. But their actions regarding the public participation speak louder than their desperate electioneering attempts.

A genuinely caring government would have listened to and addressed the concerns of the public – the majority of whom totally rejected the BELA Bill. A caring government would have amended the deeply problematic clauses that continues to disempower schools and communities and stomps on the rights of parents. Instead the ANC government left a back door that still makes it the final authority on language and admissions in schools.

  1. While changes have been made by the NCOP at our insistence to problematic clauses regarding admission and language policies, procurement, and the home-schooling sector, the very real threat of abuse has not been removed from the BELA Bill, and the DA has no doubt that ANC governments will jump on the first chance they get to impose what many struggled so hard to overthrow – a centralisation of power by the State – similar to a Bantu education-style policy that imposed a language of instruction on schools at the detriment of our children’s quality education. The last 30 years under ANC governance have seen very little development of indigenous languages. The BELA Bill persists in centralising power in the hands of unelected bureaucrats, undermining the critical role of parents, educators, and local governing bodies in shaping the educational landscape of their communities.
  2. While other successful countries with quality education are decentralising decision making to the lowest level of government and communities, the ANC-government wants to centralise power. The BELA Bill now explicitly forces all schools to purchase stationary, textbooks and other learner and teacher support material through a centralised tender system under Department control – another scheme designed to let ANC cadres loot while schools suffer. It will result in the late delivery of textbooks and poor-quality materials. The ANC has no shame to destroy what is left of our public schools.
  3. The Department’s failure to engage with the home-schooling sector on the best means of regulation and the committee’s ignoring of public submission contravenes the Constitutional Court judgement on the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Act. The Bill still imposes excessive regulatory burdens on parents who opt for homeschooling, infringing on their autonomy and freedom of choice.

A government that cared about our children, would have ensured that they attend schools where their lives aren’t in danger from dangerous pit toilets, asbestos, roofs that fall on their heads, or unfenced premises.

Three weeks ago I sadly went to bury 3-year-old Unecebo Mboteni who died after drowning at his school’s pit toilet.

A government that cared about our children would have ensured that they could read for meaning by the time they’re 10 years old, that they have basic numeracy skills under their belt, and that a matric qualification means they have the skills to meaningfully participate in the economy without having to fear becoming one of the 3.6 million young people not in employment, education, or training.

This ANC government did none of those things. After 30 years in power, they continue to undermine the people they’re meant to serve. The way the ANC ignored Parliamentary protocol and legislative muster to push the BELA Bill through Parliament is evidence of the fact that for them no sacrifice is too precious to retain their power – not even the future of our children. They do not care that our children have to face rivers and dangerous roads to get to dilapidated, overcrowded schools where they’re denied their National School Nutrition Programme meals.

This ANC government only cares about continuing to feed at the trough. They care about imposing undue control on teacher appointments through SADTU thereby allowing education standards to drop ever further as all accountability and quality measures have been stripped from the system by the union.

A matric pass is so meaningless that the majority of young people are destined to sit at home with no access to university or a job because you failed to give them quality education.

You see the thing is about surveys of achievement, they don’t care what you say you have done, they just measure your actual delivery, and the ANC’s is shambolic!

Just as Cyril Ramaphosa enacted the NHI into law yesterday, the ANC’s intentions with the BELA Bill are clear: it’s being used for political gain. The ANC’s agenda is transparent—they’ll stop at nothing to push through Bills like the BELA and NHI, employing deceptive election tactics that promise a brighter future for South Africans but deliver little.

The BELA Bill has become just another tool to fool South Africans into selling their birth right for a pot of poisoned lentil soup.

The DA remains steadfast in opposing this Bill, committed to fighting it every step of the way, from parliamentary chambers to the President’s office, ensuring that our children’s futures aren’t shackled by outdated legislation.

The fastest way to stop the ANC from destroying our children’s futures is to vote them out in 13 days’ time to rescue our children from a failing ANC public education system that will only lead them to a life of unemployment and poverty.

Vote DA so that we can rescue South Africa from these thieves!