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PA’s Kenny Kunene brazenly targets primary school for alleged Shona lessons, foreign national learners

PA’s Kenny Kunene brazenly targets primary school for alleged Shona lessons, foreign national learners
Esikhisini Primary School in Saulsville, Pretoria, was the focus of political campaigning this week. (Photo: Masego Mafata)

Using xenophobia to campaign is against the Electoral Code of Conduct, say activists.

On Monday Patriotic Alliance’s deputy president Kenny Kunene and other party members picketed at a school in Saulsville, Pretoria.

Afterwards, Kunene wrote on X/Twitter: “Today we went to Esikhisini Primary School to make sure that Shona is not taught at that school and we also made a call for Chair of SGB who is a Zimbabwean to be removed. Indeed some kids [are] from Zim and they must be replaced by SA kids.”

This comment has been retweeted over 500 times and liked nearly 2,000 times.

When GroundUp contacted the Patriotic Alliance’s national spokesperson Steve Motale, he said that the picket was a response to complaints from “disgruntled teachers” about plans to introduce Shona as a language subject at the school.

Yet Shona is not taught in Esikhisini Primary School and the Gauteng education department denies it has received any formal application for Shona to be taught at the school.

According to department spokesperson Steve Mabona, “Principals are allowed to apply for foreign languages to be taught at their respective schools.”

Mabona said the application would be accompanied by minutes of school governing body (SGB) and parent meetings to show that there is consensus on the introduction of the subject.

Immigration and asylum seeker rights activists are calling on political parties to stop using foreigners as “scapegoats” when campaigning for votes for the upcoming 2024 elections.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Deconstructing political party-speak on xenophobia – calming messages or inflammatory statements?

Immigrant rights organisations Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia (Kaax) and People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (Passop), have criticised the lack of “political will” to ensure that political parties refrain from making anti-foreigner sentiments when they campaign.

General Moyo, from Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia, said, “Political parties using xenophobic messages to gain support are in violation of the Electoral Code of Conduct as enshrined in the Electoral Act and we’ve seen this from the PA and a whole range of other political parties.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: Who is behind South Africa’s xenophobic nationalism?

The code of conduct prohibits the publishing of false information and the use of language which may provoke violence, he said.

Given the history of xenophobic violence in South Africa, gatherings where people are mobilised using anti-foreigner statements run the risk of violence directed at any immigrants living in South Africa.

Passop’s director Victor Mdluli Chikalogwe, said: “There is no political will from the government and political parties to determine how issues that communities are facing can be addressed, without blaming foreigners.”

All schools have a process to elect their SGB chairs; it is unclear on what basis a politician can demand that a chairperson be removed because of their country of origin.

Zimbabwean learners

The “high number of Zimbabwean learners at the school” was another reason the Patriotic Alliance gave for the picket. “We cannot allow a situation where South African kids, whose parents pay taxes, find themselves without school while Zimbwean learners have space in our schools and many other public facilities,” said Motale.

But according to the department, only 20% of learners at the school are foreign nationals.

Mabona told GroundUp, “The department uses the online system to process such applications. No special preference is given to foreign nationals at the expense of South Africans.”

To this, Chikalogwe added: “Foreigners have the right to live, learn and access health services in South Africa.” DM

First published by GroundUp.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Citizen X says:

    Dispicable only breeding hatred. Picketing outside of a school where kids are present is a very clear and present danger! Should not be allowed.

  • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

    Pathetic for someone who claims to be patriotic to attack children.
    Children are minors who don’t have control on their lives.
    We don’t have any verified information on what crime has been committed here.
    If those children are correctly documented which we don’t get evidence they are not, this amounts to a crime against humanity.
    Or I forgot it’s in some green manifesto some where.
    If we behave in this manner we will be a remixed version of North Korea.

  • Jane Lombard says:

    Disgusting. Could the school not have called the police?

  • Ben Harper says:

    Again, this is precisely why people did not want PA’s participation in the Moonshot Pact

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


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