The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Northern Cape has alleged that the African National Congress disrupted schooling in Upington ahead of its regional manifesto launch. DA leader and premier candidate, Andrew Louw said it was “a desperate attempt to mobilize young people ahead of the party’s regional manifesto launch”.
Louw is alleging that a talk to learners at AJ Ferreira High School by an official from the Department of Education, “evolved from a discussion about learnerships into a fishing expedition to assess which students were registered, and then progressed to a full-on marketing ploy to get grade 11 learners and matriculants to attend the ANC launch at the Robert Gunda stadium on Saturday”.
Louw stated that teachers at the school tried to stop the government official on several occasions, before ultimately requesting them to leave. The DA has commended the actions of the educators who stepped in to what it refers to as “politicking”. The party indicated that it is completely unacceptable that the school visit was reduced to a party political event. “The province’s poor matric pass rate is a symptom of a failing ANC government that does not really care about education. It is also increasingly clear that the ANC will do anything to try and stay in power, no matter how unacceptable it is,” said the leader of the DA. The party has vowed to report the matter to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
Meanwhile the Department of Education has dismissed the claims made by the DA that schools in the ZF Mgcawu District were disrupted. The department’s media liaison officer, Geoffrey Van Der Merwe said on Sunday, “The scheduled programs that took place at the AJ Ferreira High School and Pabalello High School on Friday the 8th of March, where aligned to International Women’s Day (distribution of sanitary towels) and the preparations for the upcoming South African Schools Choral Eisteddfod competition”.
Van der Merwe indicated that the DA’s allegations are false as the programmes are important and “contributes to the holistic development of our learners and were organized by our District Office.” He pointed out that informing learners regarding their constitutional right of voting in the upcoming 2019 General Elections forms part of civic education. He continued that learners throughout the province, particularly grade 11 and 12 are eligible voters and should be encouraged to participate in the democracy by casting their vote on the 8th of May 2019.
“Our country is approaching elections and we encourage the Democratic Alliance to find other ways and means to campaign, instead of criticizing and misinforming the public about the Departmental programs,” stated Van Der Merwe.