DA leader John Steenhuisen and DA spokesperson on public service and administration, Leon Schreiber, will lead protest action calling for Afrikaans to be upheld as an indigenous language, outside the Tshwane offices of the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande on Tuesday.
The DA said in a statement that its leaders would hand over a petition to the Department of Higher Education to demand that Afrikaans is declared an indigenous language.
“This follows the release of the Language Policy Framework for Public Higher Education Institutions, which excludes Afrikaans from the definition of indigenous languages. This stands in contradiction of a recent Constitutional Court ruling that Afrikaans is indeed an indigenous language that originated within South Africa,” the DA said.
The DA said that the party’s leaders and its members from across the country would join the protest action to demonstrate to the government “that Afrikaans deserves its rightful place among the country’s indigenous languages and that the DA will continue to fight for the protection of all indigenous languages in South Africa”.
The issue of the Afrikaans language has featured prominently in the news in recent years following a battle between the University of South Africa (Unisa) and Afriform to retain it as a language of instruction at the university.
The Constitutional Court ruled in favour of civil rights organisation, AfriForum, in the case for the retention of Afrikaans as a primary language of instruction at the University of South Africa (Unisa) on Wednesday.
AfriForum welcomed the ruling as “a huge victory for Afrikaans, Afrikaans-speaking students and language rights in South Africa in general”.
This comes after the Supreme Court of Appeal had ruled in favour of AfriForum on this issue with its judgment in 2020 that Unisa’s language policy had not been adopted “in a constitutionally compliant manner”.
The Constitutional Court upheld the Supreme Court of Appeal’s finding that Unisa’s current language policy, which provides only for English as the primary medium of instruction, is unconstitutional, but allowed more time for the implementation of the ruling. The full ruling is not yet available.
However, AfriForum said in a statement on Wednesday that the organisation had the greatest appreciation for the Constitutional Court’s position on students’ right to mother language education.
Alana Bailey, AfriForum’s Head of Cultural Affairs, the judgment, which followed a legal process spanning more than five years, was of importance to all Afrikaans-speaking students in the country, but also for the future of Afrikaans as a high-function language.