SA Journal of Education, Volume 40, Supplement 2, December 2020

The ambivalence of comradeship in the appointment of principals: A threat to the provision of quality education

Bekithemba Dube, Cias Tsotetsi


In this article, we problematise the practice of appointing principals on the basis of comradeship instead of excellence, qualifications and competency. The appointment of principals in South Africa has, over the years, become politicised and unionised to the extent that it is contextualised within comradeship narratives, thereby negating the competency and qualifications that are required to champion quality education – education that is essential to empower people. To cement its arguments, the article is couched in decoloniality, a framework that evokes the need to challenge coloniality, which has displaced professionalism and competency as criteria for appointing principals. The data for the study were generated through questionnaires completed by, and interviews with, 19 participants in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province. The article reports that most schools with comrade principals face challenges related to competency, learner performance and indiscipline. The article recommends that the Department of Basic Education revisit its appointment policy for principals to ensure that competent principals are appointed, regardless of whether they are comrades or not.

ORCiD iDs of authors:
Bekithemba Dube –
Cias Tsotetsi -

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