South Africa


Long-standing MEC for Education Debbie Schäfer resigns to take up job in UK 

Long-standing MEC for Education Debbie Schäfer resigns to take up job in UK 
Illustrative image//Western Cape MEC for Education Debbie Schäfer (Photo by Gallo Images / Netwerk 24 / Deon Raath) and Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde (Photo by Gallo Images/Die Burger/Jaco Marais)

Western Cape premier Alan Winde will make changes to his Cabinet after Schäfer announced her resignation. Schäfer is the latest person to leave Winde’s provincial cabinet following the firing of Albert Fritz over allegations of sexual misconduct.  

On Thursday 21 April, Western Cape MEC for Education Debbie Schäfer announced her resignation as she will take up a job in the United Kingdom.  

A statement was issued by Schäfer and premier Alan Winde in the afternoon, confirming Schäfer had tendered her resignation on Wednesday. Her resignation will be effective from 15 May. 

She will take up a position in the legal sector in the UK. 

A veteran politician of almost 20 years, Schäfer has been a City of Cape Town councillor as well as an MP in the National Assembly. In 2014, she was appointed to Premier Helen Zille’s cabinet as MEC for Education and was retained as MEC when Winde took office in 2019.  

“I am, however, now ready to bow out of public life,” said Schäfer. 

Schäfer said a new MEC for Education “will be afforded an opportunity to both build on the tremendous work of our team to date as well as to introduce change with their own approach and ideas”. 

Load shedding is here to stay for (at least) another year, while the government dithers on policy

Winde stated, “I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Debbie for her excellent service to the people of the Western Cape, especially our province’s children… Anyone who knows Debbie knows that she is a strong and tenacious leader, who fights hard each and every day to ensure a well-run, quality-focused education system in the Western Cape”. 

In 2021, the Western Cape recorded a matric pass rate of 81.2%, while Bachelor’s pass rates stood at 45.3% — a new record for the province.

Winde will announce changes to his provincial Cabinet on Friday morning at a media briefing in Century City, Cape Town. Winde now needs to replace Schäfer and Albert Fritz — who was fired in March as the Provincial Minister of Community Safety after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced.

“We are determined to use this post-disaster moment to make the changes we need to move forward”. In his State of the Province Address in February, Winde announced new departments of Infrastructure and Transport and Urban Mobility. Winde also renamed the Health Department the ‘Department of Health and Wellness’ and the Department of Community Safety was renamed the Department of Police Oversight and Community Safety. 

Schäfer said she remains a member of the DA. “I remain committed to the Democratic Alliance, and have no intention of resigning my membership.” 

In May, the Western Cape DA will elect a new deputy leader, as Tertuis Simmers was elected unopposed as interim leader. Simmers became deputy leader when Fritz was elected leader, following the resignation of Bonginkosi Madikizela in 2021. Simmers served as acting interim leader when Fritz resigned as leader in January due to the sexual misconduct allegations. DM


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