MUGWENA MALULEKE: Stop the unhealthy obsession with Sadtu
As the SA Democratic Teachers Union we flatly reject the notion that we are to blame for any crisis in education in which the president must intervene
Author Mark Barrowcliffe describes obsession as "a way for damaged people to damage themselves more".
There probably isn’t a better way to describe the obsession that some have with the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu).
It is clear that those who have become obsessed with Sadtu are so damaged that it has eroded even the most basic common sense.
If our members are so bad for education, why are the matric results improving?
It does not matter whether Sadtu has done something good or bad. The mere continued existence of Sadtu will forever remain their pain.
In an editorial in the FM (January 10-16), a call was made for President Cyril Ramaphosa to rein in Sadtu if he wants education to deliver on its desired outcomes.
This is a call that has been made many times before by those who harbour a hatred for the rights protected in SA’s Bill of Rights, which include the right to equality, dignity and fair labour practices. The true nature of this call to the president is that these rights must be taken away. That comes as no surprise, given that those making the call still live in the era of colonialism and apartheid.
Over the years, Sadtu has been accused of all sorts of things.
In 2016, serious allegations were made in the public domain that Sadtu controls education departments. This claim, along with other allegations, was thoroughly investigated by an independent body.
When no evidence could be found, those behind these allegations then disappeared into thin air. That disappearance does not surprise us, because even before the investigation they had already pronounced on Sadtu’s guilt. They have become experts in making judgments based on innuendo.
Sadtu represents the majority of more than 400,000 teachers in SA. Proportionally, it has a presence in over 80% of public schools.
Interestingly, one of the measures of the improvement in education is the matric results, which have again shown an improvement.
Schools led by principals who are Sadtu members and activists and where our members are in the majority performed well. If our members are so bad for education, why are results, particularly in schools where Sadtu is in the majority, improving?
People who like to drive wedges thrive on evil, desiring that there be conflict and instability — they know this leads to chaos, disorder and poor outcomes.
In turn, these poor outcomes will aggravate the levels of unemployment and poverty which affect communities served by Sadtu members.
For this reason, they wish for a conflict between Ramaphosa and Sadtu. They are unhappy about the labour peace which exists in the education sector — that is not in their interests.
Sadtu will never be apologetic when it comes to defending the gains of our freedom and advancing the long-standing demand of a quality public education system. Sadtu will not apologise for rejecting the privatisation of public education, nor will it stand by when racism and inequality continue unabated. That would be a betrayal of the people we serve.
The public vilification project by forces which do not want labour peace and stability in education has failed. The same people who hold this obsession with Sadtu have already failed in their quest to have education declared an essential service. But that doesn’t discourage them — more than anything, they have a racism problem. Now, they insult the intelligence of the president, who, in their minds, should disrupt the labour peace and create a crisis in education.
These dangerously obsessed people have not once provided any evidence to support their distorted opinions. All they know is how to make unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations. So, let them provide the evidence of their suggestions to the president.
• Maluleke is Sadtu’s general secretary