Round two: Maimane fights back on the reopening of schools

Mmusi Maimane

Mmusi Maimane is prepared to go to court again over the reopening of schools. Picture: African News Agency (ANA).

Mmusi Maimane is in a fighting spirit as he continues to challenge the Department of Basic Education regarding its reopening of schools.

Last Friday, Maimane and his organisation, One South Africa Movement, picketed outside the department’s offices demanding the decision to reopen schools be reconsidered. 

The organisation’s new petition calling for the immediate closure of all schools has garnered more than 190 000 signatures as of this afternoon, with its target being 200 000.

“We are going into the Covid-19 surge, our children and our teachers are being asked to put their lives at risk. We must consider closing schools for the duration of the surge,” said Maimane on Twitter.

“If the department feels strongly that fighting for the right to life is a political issue and wants to take us to court, well, I look forward to meeting them in court.

 “More schools are opening and shutting on a regular basis. It can never be political to say the right to life is supreme over other rights.”

The Council of Education Ministers told our sister publication, IOL, that it was not ruling out the possibility of going to court to seek protection from those obstructing schooling.

“These organisations have threatened teachers and learners; others have gone to court and failed to stop the schools reopening, and are now resorting to threats and disruptions to achieve their intended goals,” said the council. 

The council added that it was regrettable that leaders would choose schools as a “theatre of political posturing and muscle-flashing while the department was working on creating a safe environment for learning and teaching during Covid-19″. 

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said some of the organisations had lost in court and were resorting to disruptive behaviour. 

She expressed her disappointment that (political) organisations have neglected to recognise the efforts of the department in providing alternatives for parents.

CEO of Naptosa KZN Thirona Moodley said that due to the spike in infections expected over this period, Mothsekga should reconsider the academic calendar and bring the holiday forward in order to bypass the surge.

“Unfortunately, the Minister had unilaterally gazetted the (academic) calendar. We are of the view that the proposed timetable models should also be reconsidered by schools to minimise exposure. 

“We don’t believe that safety must be forsaken for curriculum coverage. The minister must also be cognizant of the fact that the Department of Health has no capacity to assist and support the schools.

“This has left the schools to their own devices and possibly exposing them to greater risks.”