DA`s disgraceful opposition to language policy change at Stellies

15 November 2015

The Office of the ANC Chief Whip notes the announced change in the language policy at the Stellenbosch University, which would see all learning at the institution being offered in English as a common language in the country. The institution`s management further announced that "substantial academic support" would be provided in other South African languages in accordance with students` needs.

We welcome this important change to the controversial language policy as a step in the right direction towards the attainment of an inclusionary, transformed and a truly South African institution. It is important to us that such a change is happening at the Stellenbosch University, which has for years been regarded as an enclave of white Afrikaner nationalism where racial discrimination, exclusionary policies and resistance to transformation is rampant.

As we have previously asserted, institutions like Stellenbosh University remain our nation`s important assets and their reputation must be protected. However, for us to guard their image they must change fundamentally and refrain from abusing their autonomy to perpetuate racism and other discriminatory practices designed to keep Black students out. More than 20 years into democracy, this country cannot afford to have enclaves of Afrikaner nationalism and racial inequality in a ocean of Constitutional democracy and human rights culture.

We commend the student movements at Stellies such as the SA Students Congress (Sasco) and the Open Stellenbosch Movement who led the revolutionary cause for transformation that culminated in this important victory, which represents a significant step towards fundamental change at that institution.

Through the parliamentary oversight function, we will ensure the intensification of a process which the higher education committee had begun to engage all stakeholders towards radical transformation at this University and others. We will also support the Higher Education Amendment Draft Bill, which is currently before Parliament, as a necessary and critical transformation driver at institutions of higher learning still struggling with transformation. The Bill is key in ensuring that a balance is drawn between preserving the autonomy of institutions of higher learning and advancing transformation imperatives in order for these institutions to fully reflect our democratic dispensation.

As it is to be expected, the enemy of transformation and defender of white privilege, the DA, has not wasted time speaking out in opposition of these recent important transformation developments both at Stellenbosch University and at Parliament. Yesterday the DA issued a statement opposing the announcement by the University to abolish its exclusionary language policy, arguing that the constitutional rights of Afrikaans speaking students ought to be upheld. The rights of Afrikaner students, as far as the DA is concerned, must be protected at the expense of Black students who continue to feel unwelcome at that University - as illustrated recently by the Luister video documentary.

The DA`s disgraceful statement, which seeks to stand in the way of inclusiveness and transformation at the University, is a reinforcement of its defense of the same controversial language policy in 2009 as necessary to "preserve its cultural heritage". Recently, the DA demanded the withdrawal of the Higher Education Amendment Draft Bill, which is aimed at expediting transformation, from Parliament.

The DA`s support of the status quo at the University of Stellenbosch and its opposition of our transformation efforts is a slap on the face of Black students who suffer rampant racism and discriminatory policies at former whites only institutions. The party continues to expose itself for what it is known for: as anti Black, anti transformation and anti non-racialism.

Recently during the Fees Must Fall campaign, the party atohijack poor Black students` campaign for affordable and accessible education for publicity purposes, while it clearly remains against access of Black students at formerly white institutions.

The DA`s open and shameless support of discriminatory practices and its opposition to transformation efforts, although unsurprising, is disturbing and must be rejected by all those who uphold our democratic values.

We will not allow parties that clearly still hanker for apartheid rule like the DA to block our people`s efforts for transformation and non racialism at key institutions of our country.

ISSUED BY THE OFFICE OF THE ANC CHIEF WHIP

Enquiries

Moloto Mothapo 0823706930

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