‘SA’s education system the worst in Africa’

Pik Botha questions how the ANC will tackle inequality if government can’t educate the youth.

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Pik Botha. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Foreign Affairs Minister Pik Botha has slammed South Africa's education system, saying it is the worst in Africa.

He was speaking at a discussion on affirmative action hosted by trade union Solidarity in Pretoria on Thursday.

Botha said the ANC's brand of affirmative action has failed to address inequality.

He also questioned how the ANC expected to address inequality if government can't educate the youth.

"Our education system is far behind. It's the worst in Africa and [we have] the highest per capita expenditure in Africa. [Zimbabwean President Robert] Mugabe's education system is better."

He said there are white farmers willing to impart their knowledge to their black counterparts.

"It's in the interest of the white farming community that you have successful black farmers. It doesn't happen. Instead they would think of trying to change the law and property rights so they could take your property eventually for nothing."

Botha also said the ANC broke agreements reached during the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) talks in the early 1990's.

Codesa was a series of negotiations aimed at reaching reforms to end the apartheid system of governance.

Botha said Mandela confided in him that he was worried white professionals would leave the public service when the ANC took power.

"He said we need white professionals to train and teach blacks to achieve the same level of proficiency. What [the government is] doing now is the opposite."

The Wits Business School's Rabelani Dagada agreed with Botha, saying the best way to empower people is through education. But he added government is failing to achieve this.

"The best way to empower individuals in the nation is not to take from those who have and give to those who don't have."

Solidarity's Dirk Herman said simply meeting race quotas does not empower black people.

The trade union has called for a parliamentary debate on affirmative action.

Meanwhile, a court case which Solidarity has said could change the face of Affirmative Action in the country is due to resume in the coming weeks.

Solidarity has taken the Western Cape Department of Correctional Services to court, arguing that its employment equity plan is negatively affecting coloured people.

Both parties are due to submit their heads of argument to Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker later in August.