DA leader John Steenhuisen leads a protest outside the office of Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande in Pretoria. Photo: SUPPLIED
DA leader John Steenhuisen leads a protest outside the office of Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande in Pretoria. Photo: SUPPLIED

DA petitions for Afrikaans to be an indigenous language

By Kailene Pillay Time of article published Oct 12, 2021

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The DA has handed over a petition during their protest outside the office of Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande in Pretoria to demand that Afrikaans be declared an indigenous language.

Earlier this year the DA found Afrikaans to be excluded from the definition of indigenous languages in the new Language Policy Framework for Public Higher Education Institutions.

The policy only defined languages that “belong to the southern Bantu language family" as indigenous.

DA leader John Steenhuisen and spokesperson for Public Service and Administration Leon Schreiber led the protest on Tuesday.

The party recently filed a complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) against Nzimande over his “hateful and unconstitutional insistence on defining Afrikaans as a foreign language” in South Africa.

The party's complaint to the SAHRC follows from the Constitutional Court's recent judgment in the Unisa language case.

The Constitutional Court gave it until the start of the 2023 academic year to revise its language policy, which did away with teaching and learning in Afrikaans.

In their petition, the DA stated that Nzimande continued to defend his department's language policy framework for higher education, which classified Afrikaans “hatefully and unconstitutionally as an alien” language.

The petition has so far gained 7,451 signatures with a target set for 20,000 signatures.

The petition reads as follows:

“The DA, together with all persons signing this petition, hereby address the following demands to the Minister of Higher Education and Training:

“The Department of Higher Education and Training must immediately amend the Policy Framework for Higher Education Institutions to recognise Afrikaans as an indigenous South African language. The Policy Framework currently only recognises languages ​​belonging to the ’South Bantu language family’ as indigenous languages. This definition is unscientific, contrary to the Constitutional Court's ruling in the Unisa case, and hurtful and hateful towards the diverse Afrikaans-speaking language community.

“After the Policy Framework has been adapted to recognise Afrikaans's legal status as an indigenous South African language, Minister Nzimande must publicly apologise to the Afrikaans-speaking community for the way in which he undermines this community's constitutional rights to dignity, mother tongue education and equality.

“After Afrikaans’s status as an indigenous language has been recognised, Nzimande must request all public universities – including the University of Stellenbosch – to adapt their language policies in accordance with Afrikaans's status as a full-fledged indigenous language so that mother tongue instruction in Afrikaans is expanded rather than restricted.”

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Political Bureau

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