Pretoria - The ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) in Gauteng has come to the defence of its chairperson and Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, following AfriForum’s threats to take legal action against him for making “defamatory” comments.
The comments were allegedly made during a television interview after Lesufi was elected as the new party chairperson.
In denouncing racism, Lesufi made reference to AfriForum, saying: “Racists are mindless, useless and selfish. We must not tolerate racists. AfriForum and many other organisations that are coming in our country to represent a certain race and a certain language must not be tolerated.”
The lobby group took offence and demanded that Lesufi retract his statement and pay R500 000 to avoid facing legal action. Lesufi refused to back down, saying he would not be intimidated nor bullied by AfriForum because he fought for freedom of speech and had defeated the apartheid regime.
Yesterday, the PEC expressed deep concern about the “level of antagonistic attacks by racist and right-wing groups” on Lesufi.
“The provincial chairperson of the ANC in Gauteng is among the leaders who sacrificed their youth and were unfairly detained fighting for the liberation of this country from a brutal, murderous and oppressive apartheid government that glorified segregation, racism and disregarded the human rights of the majority of this country, who are Africans,” the executive said in a statement.
The PEC said it viewed attacks and threats on their chairperson in a dim light and “as direct attacks on the ANC itself and as an insult to the peace-loving people of our country”.
“We are aware that, for a sustained period of time, right-wing groups, offshoots and remnants of the National Party, organisations such as AfriForum, Freedom Front Plus and others who are defending a certain race and language, have been attacking Comrade Lesufi by threatening him with lawsuits for merely defending non-racialism,” it said.
The PEC said “non-racialism was a policy of the ANC and we are not going to stand by and allow white supremacist vultures to carcass on the Gauteng chairperson of the ANC for … defending our policies”.
The ANC also hit out at the DA following its recent march to the provincial Education Department to raise concerns about the proposed Basic Education Language Act, known as the Bela Bill.
“Exactly two weeks ago, the party that deploys body builders and a defender of white privilege, the DA, launched their 2024 campaign in front of Comrade Lesufi’s office at the Gauteng Education Department under the guise that they were challenging proposals made in the Bela Bill, which indicates that a school must teach in at least two languages,” the party said.
Regarding the march, Lesufi had said: “The insinuation by the DA and other organisations stating that this bill is being used to attack Afrikaans and mother-tongue education is senseless. This bill intends to promote and defend all languages in all schools.
“They must not bring politics into the education space. Our children must be in the same classroom learning and playing together.”