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Friday, June 18, 2021

Clashes continue between FF Plus and Lesufi over Afrikaans in schools

Jenni Evans

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi faces more than 200 charges at the Integrity Commission of the Gauteng legislature after the Freedom Front Plus accused him of flouting school language policies and destroying Afrikaans.

“I am facing 272 charges for calling for a non-racial education system for all. I am not intimidated,” Lesufi tweeted.

“I am honestly NOT intimidated by those who think a non-racial education system is a breach of the Constitution. Today I received 272 charges from the Freedom Front Plus claiming I am targeting Afrikaners! Non-racialism is the future, no one can stop! I am ready to face these frivolous and time-wasting charges.”

Lesufi was not immediately available to elaborate on the case against him, and FF Plus Member of the Provincial Legislature (MPL) Philip van Staden said he was in a meeting.

 Van Staden referred to a statement he issued in August.

In that statement, he said the action was sparked by Lesufi’s comments in April that schools’ language policies would not play a role in admission applications in 2019.

‘In contempt of’ the Constitution

Concerned that it flouted school governing bodies’ own decisions and policies and threatened Afrikaans at schools, Van Staden lodged a 389-page complaint against Lesufi.

He claims that Lesufi was in alleged contempt of and violated Section 29 of the Constitution between 2014 and 2018. This section of the Constitution sets out education requirements.

It includes the right “to receive an education in the official language, or languages of their choice in public educational institutions where that education is reasonably practicable”.

It is also alleged that Lesufi violated Section 135 of the Constitution, read with Schedule 2, Section 5.

Section 135 is the requirement that a provincial premier and an MEC swear or affirm faithfulness to the Republic of SA and obedience to the Constitution.

“The FF Plus asserts that Lesufi violated this section of the Constitution by being in contempt of Section 29 of the Constitution 272 times.”

Lesufi ‘must bear the consequences’

“Lesufi’s latest attempt to destroy Afrikaans as a language and Afrikaans schools has already been published in the Government Gazette, where the MEC is proposing new regulations and the FF Plus is of the opinion that the MEC’s attempts can no longer be tolerated and that he must bear the consequences of his actions.”

The FF+ ultimately wants Lesufi to resign if the Integrity Commission finds him guilty.

It is not their first clash over Afrikaans.

In January, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria set aside a department decision to admit 55 pupils to be taught in English at Hoërskool Overvaal, an Afrikaans-medium school.

The court found that the school didn’t have the capacity to admit additional pupils.

In July, the Constitutional Court dismissed an appeal against the Hoërskool Overvaal decision, which the Gauteng education department lodged.

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