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Cape Town - The DA has spoken out against the Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s call for teaching to become an “essential service”.
The provincial education department is politically led by the DA as it is the ruling party in Western Cape.
The Anglican church called on church members in the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) to transform the union or resign.
Its provincial synod adopted a resolution on Friday to condemn “corruption and laziness which deprives our children of the education they deserve”.
It called on church members who also belonged to Sadtu either to transform the trade union into a body that truly served the cause of education, or to resign from Sadtu.
It called on Sadtu to “refrain from destructive stay-aways” and on Parliament to declare teaching an essential service.
The church’s call mirrors one made by the ANC’s National Executive Committee in February, when it said: “We will leave no stone unturned to make teaching an essential service. Education must be a priority; when you disrupt education you are not threatening life and death, but you are disrupting the future prospects of the country” – but there has been no movement since.
But the DA’s spokeswoman on Basic Education, Annette Lovemore, told the Cape Argus on Monday they did not support the call. “Not allowing teachers to go on strike is not going to improve education. In Botswana, where it is an ‘essential service’, it has had a severe impact on teachers’ morale,” she reported.
Instead, the DA believed education should be a “core service”, which guaranteed some teaching but still allowed teachers to exercise their right to labour action.
Sadtu, meanwhile, has hit back at the Anglican church. “The dictatorial and judgemental stance… lacks the Christian agenda but reeks of a political agenda,” it said.
“We would like to warn the churches not to allow themselves to be used as pawns in politics.”
Sadtu spokeswoman Nomusa Cembi said the union was surprised by the church’s statement. “We have not killed anyone and we are not running a corrupt organisation. As far as we are concerned, we are serving a purpose.”
“We would not have 260 000 members if we were playing fools. We know that we are sincere about fighting for quality education.”
She said it was as though the church was spreading propaganda against the union.
Sadtu said the 260 000 of its members who formed 70 percent of teachers in South Africa felt offended by the synod’s resolution.