DA continues to stand firm against BELA Bill

Issued by Baxolile Nodada MP and Delmaine Christians MP –
14 May 2024 in News

Today, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) voted on the amended report of the Select Committee on Education and Recreation regarding the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill.

The vote resulted in 8 provinces in favor and 1 against (Western Cape). While the bill has passed in the NCOP, it has been amended from its original form as passed by the National Assembly. Consequently, it will now be referred back to the NA for further consideration.

The DA is resolute in its opposition to the BELA Bill and will continue to fight against the archaic centralisation of powers championed by the ANC. It is evident that the ANC is intent on rushing this bill through before the upcoming elections, using it as a tool for cheap electioneering.

Despite not having been passed by the NCOP at the time, the ANC has already scheduled it for debate in the House on Thursday, May 16th.

This premature move by the ANC undermines the duty of parliamentarians to thoroughly scrutinise legislative changes, reducing the Basic Education Committee to a mere formality rather than a check on executive power as mandated by the constitution.

The DA will vehemently oppose the BELA Bill both in committee and during its deliberations in the National Assembly. As the leading voice of opposition in Parliament, the DA will ensure that its objections are firmly lodged at every opportunity.

While minor adjustments have been made to the bill in response to committee deliberations, they fail to address the core concerns raised by stakeholders and the Western Cape Provincial Parliament’s Standing Committee on Education. While these amendments offer some improvements to the contentious provisions regarding admission and language policies, they still fall short of adequately addressing and resolving existing difficulties.

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.

Key issues that persist in the amended bill include:

Centralisation of authority: The bill grants disproportionate decision-making power to provincial Basic Education Department heads, diminishing the influence of school governing bodies (SGBs) and local communities in determining language and admissions policies.

Fiscal Impact: Implementation of the bill remains unfunded and could impose a multi-billion-rand burden on provincial budgets, potentially compromising essential programs like the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) and learner transport.

Restrictions on home-schooling: Clause 35 of the bill still imposes excessive regulatory burdens on parents who opt for homeschooling, infringing on their autonomy and freedom of choice.

Lack of comprehensive public participation: Despite a high volume of submissions, many public concerns remain unaddressed in the final report, indicating a lack of meaningful engagement with stakeholders.

Just as Cyril Ramaphosa prepares to enact the NHI into law this Wednesday, 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.

In reality, under an indifferent and manipulative ANC leadership, South Africa’s populace will only sink deeper into poverty unless we unite and take action. 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.