More support for Motshekga

ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe has thrown his support behind the Basic Education Minister.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has found a surprising source of support in the DA's Helen Zille. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe has thrown his support behind embattled Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

He agreed with Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille, who said the minister was "targeted unnecessarily".

Motshekga has been criticised from various quarters for her department's role in the Limpopo textbook fiasco.

In 2012, officials failed to deliver workbooks for more than six months, despite court orders against the department.

Zille on Monday said Motshekga was the best her government had worked with.

She said the minister was doing the best she could, given her limited budget.

"She can set policy frameworks, she can set norms and standards, but that is all she can do. The entire execution, the policy formulation and the passing of laws lies in the provinces."

It is unusual for the ANC to agree with the opposition, but Mantashe echoed Zille's statements.

He agreed that Motshekga had the ability to turn the education sector around, but wished support didn't only come from the DA.

"I was saying to Angie, 'your team should have said that, not the DA'."

Mantashe added that the embattled minister succeeded in constantly improving the matric exam pass rate.

Responding to Zille's claim that the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) has effectively taken charge of education in the Eastern Cape, Mantashe says unions will always grab at the chance to have more power if allowed.

The DA said Motshekga was unable to make improvements in that province.

But Equal Education's Brad Brockman says the minister is able hold provinces accountable by enforcing rules.

"We've been engaged in a very long struggle to get the minister to set binding norms and standards for school infrastructure."