Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande has accused the Democratic Alliance (DA) of “recycling its old and tired strategy that was defeated in 1996”.
This is concerning the party’s complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) against Nzimade, after he apparently labelled Afrikaans a “foreign language”.
The party had also written to Nzimande demanding the definition be changed to recognise Afrikaans as an indigenous language with status equal to all other indigenous South African languages.
“The minister dismisses with contempt the DA’s idea that he hates Afrikaans,” said the department in a statement.
Nzimande accused the DA “of seeking to privilege Afrikaans as an instrument to exclude the majority of South Africans in accessing education, especially in former white education institutions”.
Nzimande said he recognised Afrikaans as one of South Africa’s 11 official languages.
“However, I cannot allow Afrikaans to be used as a means of exclusion and oppression, nor as a means to pursue a narrow and racist Afrikaner nationalist agenda, as was the case under apartheid.”
The department will study the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) judgment on Unisa’s language policy and the DA’s complaint filed with the SAHRC.
“We are more than determined to defend our language policy in higher education, and we are prepared to engage anyone with a genuine desire to tackle inequalities in language use and development in our country,” said Nzimande.
Nzimande is consulting with his legal team and will communicate further on the implications of the ConCourt judgment on the entire post-school education and training (PSET) sector.
“Afrikaans should and must be located in a democratic South Africa and be rescued from a white right-wing agenda,” said Nzimande.
“This should not be viewed as conflicting with promoting mother-tongue instruction in a democratic South Africa,” he added.
Compiled by Narissa Subramoney