Cape Town – The DA’s new campaign aimed at “making Afrikaans equal with English” at Stellenbosch University has been viewed as a move to win votes.
MP and DA constituency head at Stellenbosch University (SU) Leon Schreiber said the party would launch an unprecedented campaign aimed at making Afrikaans equal with English at SU.
Schreiber said the “indigenous language” was apparently removed for political reasons and where mothertongue instruction was already “reasonably practicable”.
“As a party that treasures diversity and is deeply committed to expanding opportunities to all citizens, this resolution makes it clear that we now proudly stand with all South Africans who wish to express their rights as free people in the language of their choice.”
Political analyst Keith Gottschalk said since the DA elected its new leaders it had taken a strong stand on farm killings and Afrikaans at Stellenbosch.
“Both are clear issues to try and win back the Afrikaner vote from the Freedom Front Plus. But we have not yet seen the DA’s new leaders take up in any issue to try and win black votes from the ANC. So we watch with interest to see what happens,” he said.
SU spokesperson Martin Viljoen said the university noted the DA’s statement, but preferred not to comment at this stage.
Danie Rossouw, who represented Gelyke Kanse, a group that last year lost a court battle against SU after pushing for the university to adopt and implement its 2014 language policy which permitted a parallel English/Afrikaans medium tuition, among other things, said they were committed to the same objective as the DA.
“The majority language in the Western Cape province is Afrikaans, followed by Xhosa and only then English. Brown people are the largest population group in the Western Cape, the majority of them speak Afrikaans and many of them, particularly those from the rural areas can only receive tertiary education in that language.
“They are by far the most under-represented group at tertiary education institutions and the dropout figure is by far the highest.
“Of the four universities in the Western Cape, three use English as the exclusive language of instruction and Stellenbosch University has used it progressively, predominantly to the point where Afrikaans at the SU is now all but extinct,”said Rossouw.
Black People’s National Crisis Committee (BPNCC) spokesperson Songezo Mazizi said they rejected the campaign, calling it racist to promote Afrikaans as an indigenous language.
“BPNCC does not have a problem with Afrikaans as a language used by the people of South Africa as part of their constitutional right to do so.
“We want to make it clear that Afrikaans must never be used to disadvantage other people, including students at universities who do not want to learn or use Afrikaans at universities,” said Mazizi.