Gwarube’s appointment as Basic Education Minister hailed, but Sadtu unhappy

From DA Chief Whip, Siviwe Gwarube scores Basic Education portfolio. Picture: Timothy Bernard Independent Newspapers

From DA Chief Whip, Siviwe Gwarube scores Basic Education portfolio. Picture: Timothy Bernard Independent Newspapers

Published Jul 1, 2024


The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) has criticised President Cyril’s Ramphosa’s appointment of the DA’s Siviwe Gwarube, as the new Minister of Basic Education.

According to the national teachers union, a DA member’s appointment to the basic education office was an extension of apartheid, where black people were entrenched in a poor and unequal education system.

Sadtu claimed that the DA had long declared war against the union.

Sadtu general-secretary, Mugwena Maluleke, said: “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. They said they believe that the failures of the education system is because the ANC has allowed our education system to be captured by the vested interests of Sadtu.

“The DA refuses to acknowledge the role of colonial and apartheid education systems which entrenched inequalities for centuries and decades but puts the blame on Sadtu, teachers and learners.”

But education activist, Hendrick Makaneta, described Gwarube’s appointment as the dawn of “a new era”.

Makaneta noted that a young black woman presiding over this office demonstrated that the government of national unity was moving towards a progressive Basic Education Department, which was littered with nuanced issues, such as poor infrastructure and unemployed teachers.

He said that an office that was occupied by one minister for 15 years - Angie Motshekga - had ensured stability, instead of a jumble of ministers. Hence, Gwarube must garner all the support from stakeholders and relevant people to tackle internal issues in office.

“The appointment of Gwarube signals the beginning of a new era. The fact that a young person was appointed should be optimistic - it is the right appointment. She must work and be supported by stakeholders within the terrain to fulfil her mandate of taking the education sector to greater heights,” said Makaneta.

Although Gwarube who holds a BA degree in Law, Politics and Philosophy from Rhodes University, does not have an education background Makaneta maintained that she could learn on the job.

“The minister should familiarise herself with the requirements of the post, meet with relevant stakeholders in the department, including non-governmental organisations and hold a basic education imbizo,” said Makaneta.

Additionally, Gwarube must increase the pass rate to 50% but this could only be done after challenges within the education system were addressed, he said.

“Infrastructure should be prioritised, that is why we call the minister to address the issue of pit latrines which remain unresolved to date. However, the pass mark must increase to 50% for the general wellbeing of our learners.”

Makaneta slammed Sadtu for objecting to Gwarube’s appointment as minister, arguing that, “Sadtu supported the GNU from the day it was announced by the ANC. It is disingenuous of Sadtu to come at the last hour and oppose the minister simply because she is from the DA.”