Racial Tension At Land Hearings Is Shocking – Lesufi

PICTURE: George Herald

JOHANNESBURG: Since he was appointed MEC, Lesufi has taken on structural racism at some learning institutions in the province.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, who is vying for the position of Gauteng deputy chairperson, says he remains shocked by some of the racial tension at public hearings on land in parts of SA.

The hearings are part of the Constitutional Review Committee‘s work as they look into South Africans’ views on the amendment of the Constitution’s property clause to allow expropriation without compensation.

According to News24, Lesufi said he “hated racism with a passion” and was stunned when people had racist arguments in their discussions about the issue.

Since he was appointed MEC, Lesufi has taken on structural racism at some learning institutions in the province.

This gained him praise in some quarters while other racial groupings in the country have openly shared their disdain for him.

Lesufi’s mission to transform Gauteng schools also resulted in an effigy of him being placed outside the national Department of Education‘s offices.

Springbok residents attend the first day of public hearings on whether or not land should be. PICTURE: EWN

“I know where I am seated now if someone opens that door and is white, it is the principal of a white school. An Indian is a principal of an Indian school… So, non-racialism is not where it is supposed to be,” he said.

“I would be happy one day when children [who] are white will see quality education in the townships and vice versa. So, when our children apply for a school, the race component must not be determinant,” he added.

The MEC mentioned one of his key projects – online registration and said although it was once thought to be unthinkable, it protected pupils from several prejudices.

“The majority of parents, when you want your [pupils] to go to Bryanston, they look at you and check your English, the clothes you are wearing. But with online registration, it’s transparent and open. Everyone can go,” said Lesufi.

Lesufi, who was arrested by apartheid-era police at the age of 17 for being in possession of the Freedom Charter, declared his love for it and said the current land debates were proof that it was a “living document”.

“When the Freedom Charter speaks about sharing, it speaks about South Africa belonging to all, black and white… It’s not about disposing one against another or taking from another to give another,” the MEC explained.

Looking back on his own experiences and the land debates, he said it was clear that some people still resisted non-racialism. However, those people should not get tired of attempting to persuade those of a different school of thought to embrace the ANC’s approach to race.

“Our argument is not to chase anybody into the sea. Ours is to say let’s live together, let our children play together, let them sing together, dance together and study together,” Lesufi said.