Equal Education (EE) will be picketing parliament this Thursday (28 June) after multiple failures by Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, to file her answering affidavit. The minister has requested a third extension to the date of her court appearance, which has been denied by EE after two generous extensions have resulted in no action by the Minister. EE will also be holding its congress, which will be the largest ever gathering of learners and their supporters in post-apartheid South Africa, to chart the way forward for education in the country.
Equal Education press release 26 June 2012:
Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, has failed to file her answering affidavit despite Equal Education (EE) granting her two extensions. EE, represented by the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), has refused the Minister’s third request for an extension. The court case cannot be delayed indefinitely and EE does not wish the matter to be delayed any further.
EE’s application for an order forcing Minister Motshekga to prescribe minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure was filed in the Bhisho High Court on 2 March 2012. Minister Motshekga filed her notice to oppose the court case on 17 April and was due to file her answering affidavit on 11 May. The state attorney requested an extension until 24 May. EE agreed to grant the extension but was contacted by the state attorney again on 21 May requesting a further extension of “at least 30 days”. EE agreed to grant an extension but only until 8 June.
On 5 June the state attorney gave EE a written undertaking to file “by not later than 15 June 2012” but then failed to meet the self-imposed deadline. On 18 June the state attorney requested a further extension of two weeks. On 21 June the LRC wrote to inform the state attorney that EE would not grant the Minister another extension. The LRC has also approached the Registrar of the Bhisho High Court and applied for a date on the opposed roll.
EE has granted Minister Motshekga’s multiple requests for extensions but is no longer willing to postpone the vital assertion of constitutional rights. The Minister’s failure to meet the deadlines shows a disregard for EE’s application, and the legal process that has been initiated. It is also suggests that she does not understand the urgency with which the matter of school infrastructure needs to be addressed.
Across the country learners are exposed to unacceptable levels of school infrastructure. EE has engaged with the Minister over the last two years in an attempt to get her to fulfil her obligation to set minimum norms and standards in terms of section 5A of the South African Schools Act. The Minister made written commitments to EE, and commitments in government policy, but the deadlines set by the Minister have been missed. All of this is in the context of a huge public campaign, led by EE, for quality education that has mobilised tens of thousands of learners, parents, teachers and community members. Finally, due to the Minister’s refusal to meet her constitutional responsibilities, EE reluctantly took the decision to go to court.
EE has not joined the growing call for Minister Motshekga’s resignation. In fact, EE has supported Minister Motshekga in her section 100(1)(b) interventions in the Eastern Cape, and in Limpopo. Furthermore, the whole purpose of norms and standards for school infrastructure is to strengthen the Minister’s ability to provide national leadership on this vital question. In light of this the Minister’s neglect in this area is deeply disappointing and simply cannot be justified.
EE will hold two pickets this week:
• Equalisers will picket Parliament on Thursday, 28 June from 12h30 to 14h00.
• On Friday, 29 June from 3pm to 5pm, equalisers will picket on Sea Point promenade.
Both pickets will include an exhibition that will explain the school infrastructure crisis in South Africa and chronicle the history of EE’s campaign for minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure.
EE calls for the Minister to file her answering affidavit immediately. To further delay the court case is to continue to deny South African learners the right to attend safe, secure and resourced schools.
For more information please contact Doron Isaacs (EE Coordinator) on 082 850 2111 or Cameron McConnachie (LRC attorney) on 083 387 8738.Tags: Angie Motshekga, Announcements, Basic Education Minister, Current Affairs, Equal Education, Events, Legal, Legal Resources Centre