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'Zille using education as a political tool'

Sadtu has slammed Zille's comments saying she's just playing politics.

The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) says it's being used as a scapegoat by both Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille and the Basic Education Department. Picture:Lesego Ngobeni/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) says it's being used as a scapegoat by both Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille and the Basic Education Department.

On Sunday, Zille publicly defended Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga saying Sadtu was to blame for the problems in education particularly in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo.

Zille said the minister was "targeted unnecessarily".

She said Motshekga was the best education minister her government had worked with.

Zille also 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."

SADTU Secretary General Mugwena Maluleke says Zille is just playing politics.

"This is the crazy season where she's gunning for the elections and obviously for votes. She's using education as a political tool."

He also denies her claims that his union is stopping teachers from moving to schools that need more educators.

Sadtu has previously called for Motshekga to be fired.

MANTASHE AGREES

On Monday, ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe also threw his support behind Motshekga.

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 said he 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 Sadtu has effectively taken charge of education in the Eastern Cape, Mantashe said 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.

However Equal Education's Brad Brockman said the minister is able to 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."

Motshekga has been fiercely 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.

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