FEDUSA Insists on Social Cohesion and Nation Building, Not Hate Speech

The Leadership of the Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) is fully supportive of its affiliated union, the South African Teacher’s Union (SAOU), following a formal charge of hate speech and racism that was laid with the Human Rights Commission. The action by the SAOU was necessitated following a FaceBook posting by Aubrey Thamsanqa, involved in protest at the Hoërskool Overvaal, echoing “Please Zuma give us the guns to defend our democracy… ‘one bullet, een Boere kind. FEDUSA is vehemently opposed to any actions and utterings that spark and fuel racial tensions and cause undue harm to the years of effort that have been championed to build and unite the people of our beloved rainbow nation, said Dennis George, FEDUSA General Secretary.

By implication, the post intended to incite murder, is blatantly racist by nature and will in no way be tolerated. FEDUSA believes that the MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi, should be held equally accountable for the prevailing situation, as his assertion to appeal the court’s ruling clearly acted as a catalyst for the violent action that followed by the parents and associations that participated in the protest. Although FEDUSA and the SAOU remains staunch supporters of following the rule of law, we cannot condone the behaviour of the MEC that sparks a frenzy and then retracts to appeal for calm and legal processes to unfold.

FEDUSA acknowledges that despite progress since 1994, South African society remains divided. Social cohesion and nation building – action is required to be fast – tracked with extreme urgency, whilst also promoting knowledge of the Constitution and foster the values it contains. Immediate actions such as reducing inequality of opportunity, redress, enabling the sharing of common space, and awakening the populace to speak when things go wrong and be active in their own development are urgently required. Without unity, the nation cannot hope to correct the wrongs of the past. Without correcting the wrongs of the past, unity would be superficial.

FEDUSA fully supports the SAOU in requesting the Office of the Public Protector to audit the leave records of those educators who have joined the protests, were on unauthorised leave, guilty of deserting their posts and have prejudiced the education rights of those learners who were forced to join the protest action, affirmed George.

The National Development Plan’s vision is that, in 2030, South Africans are more conscious of the things they have in common than their differences. Their lived experiences cut across the divisions of race, gender, space and class. The nation is more accepting of peoples’ multiple identities. As active citizens, it remains imperative that we collectively strive to achieve South Africa’s Medium Term Strategic Framework (2014 to 2019) targets to achieve a diverse, socially cohesive society with a common national identity, argued George.

The federation will earnestly await the response by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) to the SAOU, to give the formal charges laid by the Union urgent and immediate attention and to justify its existence as a truly democratic institution serving the interests of all South African citizens. FEDUSA will certainly not hold back on pursuing all avenues to ensure that the submitted application is not woefully ignored, concluded George.