Sunday, 14 August
The DA’s federal council chairperson, Helen Zille, wants to publicly debate the controversial Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (BELA) with Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
Lesufi, who is also ANC chairperson in the province, has been criticised for his support of the bill – which, according to the DA at least, is another attempt to take over schools.
The official opposition has criticised the bill’s changes to the powers of school governing bodies (SGBs) in controlling language and admission policies.
On Wednesday, Zille said in a statement that she had accepted an invitation from Pretoria FM to debate the controversial BELA Bill with Lesufi.
READ | Zille tells supporters new education bill will discriminate against Afrikaans-speaking schools
“We challenge Lesufi to similarly accept the invitation. This after Lesufi yesterday released a statement defending the BELA amendments, which would rob school governing bodies of the power to determine their own language and admissions policies, and hand that power over to ANC cadres, like Lesufi,” she said, adding:
Zille added that Lesufi was the proud sponsor of this discriminatory move.
“The ANC is attacking mother tongue education, especially Afrikaans, and will destroy our schools. The DA will not stand for this,” she said.
The bill has been drafted and an extension to submit written comments on it has been granted until 15 August 2022.
It proposes changes to various parts of the legislation.
The changes to the powers of SGBs have raised the ire of the DA and its supporters.
Instead of SGBs having the final say on admissions and the language policies of a school, the head of department (HOD) of the province will be the final authority on the matter.
Last month, Zille echoed similar messages at a rally held outside the Gauteng education department.
In a statement last month, Lesufi dismissed claims that he was attacking Afrikaans.
He said all provinces had sanctioned the amendments proposed by the BELA Bill and it had been tabled in Parliament.
“As such, we find it odd that this progressive bill would be termed as a ‘Lesufi Bill’. The BELA Bill is a national policy and is not exclusive to Gauteng. As such, the minister is the one that initiates the bill to be introduced to the National Assembly,” he said.
Lesufi’s spokesperson, Steve Mabona, was approached for comment. It will be added once received.
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