Political parties have reacted differently to the reopening of schools under alert Level-3 of the national lockdown. All Grade 7 and 12 learners were expected in classes today but the Department of Basic Education has since changed that to next Monday.

Minister Angie Motshekga’s briefing below :

In the Western Cape schools mostly reopened as planned.  Some parties are not happy while others vow to fight this in the courts.

Reopening of schools will put children’s lives at risk 

Next Monday Grade 7 and 12 learners will return to their classrooms with government saying all the necessary minimum requirements will be in place by this week Wednesday. But some political parties are seething with anger and described the decision as reckless and irresponsible. The Economic Freedom Fighters ( EFF)  spokesperson Delisile Ngwenya says this will put the lives of vulnerable children and their teachers at risk.

“We reiterate once again our total rejection to the reopening of schools which is premature. The schools in SA including the ones in the Western Cape are far from ready. The schools that have reopened in the Western Cape townships like Thembalethu, children in some of the schools have been turned away because there are no masks. Let the department not reopen the schools until there is scientific evidence to support their decision, otherwise, schools are a death trap for children and the educators. ”

The Inkatha Freedom Party’s Spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa is accusing Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga of gambling with the lives of poor learners for political expediency.

” We cannot at this point afford the situation where the lives of children will be gambled with for the purposes of political expediency. The minister has not covered herself in glory and her department has completely failed the South African children. It is no use to force matters when it is clear that we are not ready for the reopening of schools, therefore the deadline which is set for the 8th of June is in itself one which we do not believe is going to be met particularly given the shortage of PPEs in schools and the simple fact that schools themselves are not ready. ”

But for some, it would not just end in politicking. The founder of One South Africa Movement Mmusi Maimane said they have approached the Constitutional Court to suspend the planned reopening of schools for 60 days.

”On behalf of the One SA Movement and the over 180 000 South Africans who have signed our petition online, we reject the idea that the schools should be opened in haste. We have decided to take the matter to the Constitutional Court where we are asking the court to play a supervisory role. We know that many schools in our country still have no water, we know that they don’t have PPEs and therefore it is a high risk to take our children and put them back into schools where they can be at the risk of being infected by COVID-19 and ultimately go into communities where infections could rise. ”

But in defense of its minister, the ANC says Maimane and his crew are well within their rights to approach the courts but insisted they too need to put the future of this country first instead of being engaged in political wrangling.

Monday saw the start of alert Level-3 of the nationwide lockdown. Most industries are opened with at least eight million South Africans returning to work. The governing African National Congress (ANC)  says after two months of slow economic activity, the reopening of the economy is a welcome move. Party spokesperson Pule Mabe says they will monitor safety in all public places.

” We are monitoring all public areas closely whether is the shops, whether in public transport areas, almost all facilities where people are going to congregate, license departments we are observing all of that. It is South Africans and how they conduct themselves who are going to help us win this fight. ”

Measures that should be in place at schools: