The chairman of the South African Democratic Teachers Union in Mpumalanga, Solwaka Mahlangu, has been lambasted for allegedly defending the teachers' strike as not having contributed to the decline in the province's matric results.
Mahlangu, who had been invited by the provincial education department to congratulate matriculants who passed Grade 12 this year, delivered a speech that attacked Mpumalanga education MEC Siphosezwe Masango at Groblersdal on Friday.
Mpumalanga education department spokesman Hlahla Ngwenya said Mahlangu had abused his platform and had spoken of matters outside the mandate the department had granted him.
"He had been asked to thank the matriculants and not to attack the department as he did," Ngwenya said yesterday.
Mpumalanga DA leader Anthony Benadie expressed a similar view.
He said: "Rather than congratulations he deliberately engaged in petty politics defending teachers who conducted an extensive strike earlier this year."
Benadie said the strike had had a clear and definite impact on the 2007 matric results and that Mahlangu had labelled the department and the government as being counter-revolutionary.
"He cited the negotiations earlier this year as having been unsuccessful, unfair and opposed to the working class," Benadie said.
Benadie also accused Mahlangu of having dampened the spirit of the function by stating prior to the speech by the MEC that the provincial percentage pass rate was lower than that of 2006.
Mahlangu denied that he had dampened the spirit of the occasion but confirmed that he had indicated that the pass rate was lower based on what he had obtained from media reports earlier that day.
Media reports have confirmed a 4,5percent drop in the Mpuma-langa matric pass rate this year.