Sadtu ‘not happy’ with appointment of DA’s Siviwe Gwarube as Basic Education Minister

Democratic Alliance’s parliamentary chief whip, Siviwe Gwarube, was announced as the new Basic Education Minister. File Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers

The ANC-aligned South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), which is the largest teachers union in the country, has quickly expressed unhappiness over the appointment of Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Siviwe Gwarube as the new Basic Education Minister.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his Government of National Unity Cabinet after 10pm on Sunday night.

In the May 29 general elections, the ANC received its worst election result since apartheid ended 30 years ago in South Africa. The ANC garnered 40% of the vote, losing its absolute majority in Parliament.

Earlier this month, Ramaphosa was elected for a second term after parties in the GNU – incorporating its decades-old rival, the DA and other smaller parties, including the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), the Patriotic Alliance (PA), GOOD, PA, PAC, UDM,Al-Jama-ah backed him.

Reacting to the Cabinet announcement, Sadtu general secretary, Dr Mugwena Maluleke, said Gwarube’s appointment to lead the basic education department is problematic.

General secretary of Sadtu, Mugwena Maluleke. File Picture

“This is an affront, the appointment of Siviwe because in the manifesto of the DA, the DA is creating a narrative based obviously on ideologies that the DA believes in, that Sadtu is a stumbling block to quality education.

“The DA has been clear in terms of rejecting those transformational policies that the Department of Basic Education wanted to implement, including rejecting the Bela Bill that basically wanted to help us with issues of language which should be addressed to deal with discrimination in our schools based on language.”

Maluleke said the appointment “of the DA minister who does not believe in transformation, does not believe in equity” has made the union upset.

“We really are not happy, I must indicate, with the department being headed by a person from the DA, irrespective of whether black, white, or brown that is not an issue. The issue is that those (people) believe in the ideology that the DA still has, that the poor and the working class must always accept the inferior status and this white supremacy mentality has governed the DA throughout and we have seen it even in the letters that have been leaked, the statements by Helen Zille – obviously that is their culture, their belief, their ideology and that is the issue,” said Maluleke.

He said Sadtu fears Gwarube will attempt to repeal the Basic Education Law Amendment (Bela) Bill which was passed by the National Assembly and awaits Ramaphosa’s signature.

The Bela Bill was vehemently opposed by the DA.

“We know that she is going to attempt to repeal, to reverse that because the DA did not support it. The president has not signed it, and we wonder why the president has not signed it because the president signed a number of Bills just before the elections, and only left this one out.

The Democratic Alliance opposing the Bela Bill at Parliament. File Picture: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

“It leaves us with a question mark on why this one (Bill) was particularly left out.

“The DA has made it clear that its deputies (deputy ministers) are going to be different from other deputies. They will also have the credentials of being in Cabinet. What stops us from believing that the DA will do whatever they want to do with basic education, irrespective of what the president has said,” Maluleke added.

On Sunday night, Ramaphosa unveiled his new Cabinet that consists of members of the DA, IFP, PA, PAC, UDM, Good and the FF+, who have signed on to be part of the government of national unity.

Despite a last minute push by Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to offer an alternative to the GNU, Ramaphosa struck a deal with DA leader John Steenhuisen that has secured six Cabinet posts for the DA.

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