Teacher union Sadtu objects to DA minister

Sadtu said the DA’s Siviwe Gwarube should not have been appointed to the Basic Education Minister post. Picture: Timothy Bernard/Independent Newspapers

Sadtu said the DA’s Siviwe Gwarube should not have been appointed to the Basic Education Minister post. Picture: Timothy Bernard/Independent Newspapers

Published Jul 2, 2024


A showdown is looming between the country’s biggest teacher union and the new minister of Basic Education after the labour union rejected her appointment, saying the DA has declared Sadtu as “enemy number one”.

Reacting to the appointment of the DA’s Siviwe Gwarube as Basic Education Minister, the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) said she should not have been appointed to the post.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his national Cabinet made up of various political parties as part of the Government of National Unity (GNU). The ANC has had to relinquish control of key ministries, including Basic Education, Public Administration and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs to other parties in order to form the GNU.

In a statement, Sadtu was scathing in its view on the decision to allocate Basic Education to the DA, saying the party had declared the biggest teacher union in the country “enemy number one”.

“We are disappointed, notably with the basic education minister. Announcing his Cabinet, President Ramaphosa mentioned experience and skills to deliver as some of the attributes of this Cabinet.

Surely, this is not true for the minister of basic education.

“The DA has always made Sadtu its enemy number one. Even its election manifesto declared war against Sadtu, lamenting that the union was too strong and must be dealt with,” it said.

The union said no amount of persuasion could convince them that the DA accepted the position in order to ensure quality and equitable education.

“Their motive is to weaken the unions, in particular, Sadtu. President Ramaphosa made his decision fully aware of the strained relations between Sadtu and the DA.

“We are the largest union in the basic education sector and the minister cannot pretend we do not exist but should acknowledge and work with us to deliver quality public education in an environment where labour peace is very fundamental. Nothing about teachers without teachers,” it said.

The National Teachers’ Union (Natu) said it welcomed Gwarube’s appointment, but warned that she needed to work with the union to advance education and treat the unions equally and fairly.

Natu president Sibusiso Malinga said: “If she does well and enhances what is good, we will support her. Should she do otherwise, we will challenge her as we have been doing to others. We expect her to deal decisively with any alleged corruption in the department.”

The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) said in a statement it is committed to working with all ministries in the interest of Project South Africa.

“We trust that the new administration will uphold its commitment to serving the entire nation, transcending party specific agendas.”

Other key changes in the Cabinet included former minister of water and sanitation Senzo Mchunu moving to the police ministry.

Mchunu has been credited with working hard to improve the water quality in the country and ensure that water projects are completed.

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) said it was not concerned about the personality but hoped to work well with the new minister.

Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said there were several challenges they hope the new minister could address, including the payment of danger allowance and the improvement of living standards for the members of the SAPS.

“There have been concerns about the killing of the SAPS members and we wanted that to be elevated to legislative level whereby killing a member would be considered treasonous,” he said.

Reacting to the post allocated to the IFP, Professor Zwelinzima Ndevu, said the party has been allocated key Cabinet portfolios that are strategic, visible and will ensure that it is not “swallowed” up by other parties that form the GNU.

“The IFP has been very strategic in the post it has chosen. They chose Cogta and in Gauteng they are eyeing human settlements. Those portfolios they have chosen will put them at the coalface of service delivery and would ensure that they are visible and are not swallowed up by the other parties, especially the ANC,” he said.

The Mercury