EFF leader Julius Malema addresses members of the media at a press conference in Braamfontein. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema says Africa needed one language uniting it if it is to be an equal competitor with the West.

Malema said this in reaction to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga's announcement that kiSwahili will be included as an optional second additional language to be offered in South African schools. 

"We managed to get the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) to approve the listing of kiSwahili as an optional second addition language to be offered to different learners. We currently have 15 non-official languages in the National Curriculum Statement, which will include your French, German, Mandarin," Jacaranda FM quoted Motshekga as saying. 

KiSwahili is the first African language to be included in the list. 

She added that, unlike the other languages included in the list, kiSwahili did not have the support of its mother country and instead would be supported by the department. 

Motshekga explained the significance of having kiSwahili included in the list, saying it was important because it was broadly spoken across the continent. 

Malema, speaking at an EFF briefing, lauded the inclusion of kiSwahili as among the first steps needed towards decolonisation. 

"Decolonising Africa starts with simple things... it starts with doing away with colonial symbols and colonial ways of doing things. We must, and even if it's not our generation, generations to come must have a language that unites Africans like kiSwahili.

"KiSwahili can be developed and become a continental language and we do away with speaking to each other in English."

KiSwahili will be implemented from 2020.