Maimane takes government to court over the reopening of schools

Maimane takes government to court over the reopening of schools

- Mmusi Maimane's One SA Movement is taking the government to court over the reopening of schools

- He believes that the governments plan to open schools is unconstitutional because it favours wealthier schools

- The matter will be heard on the 17th of June at the Pretoria High Court

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Mmusi Maimane's non-profit organisation One SA Movement has approached the High Court in Pretoria in a motion to have reopening of schools declared unconstitutional.

This comes as schools reopen across the country. Maimane wants the matter to be heard on the 17th of June. President Cyril Ramaphosa, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga are listed are respondents in the affidavit.

If the court rules in Maimane's favour then the government would have 60 days to develop a plan which would be supervised by the court for the safe reopening of schools.

City Press reported that the case was not heard by the Constitutional Court and therefore it was brought to the Pretoria High Court.

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“Furthermore, the applicants seek a declaration that the impugned conduct of the respondents, including the president, is irrational based on illegality in so far as it falls below the standard set in section 27 of the Disaster Management Act.
“Lastly, this matter concerns executive accountability. In that regard, we seek to invoke the court’s wide remedial powers by seeking structural or supervisory relief stipulating stringent conditions, without which the respondents may not implement any of the level 3 [lockdown] measures and/or more specifically the reopening of schools for 60 days, during which the constitutional breaches may be cured.
In the supervising period and to avoid a vacuum, level 4 regulations must be restored.”

Maimane stated that the government's track record suggested that the plans were likely to fail.

“[W]e depart from the point of view that the right to life must beprotected proactively and before a catastrophe happens. If, as we fear and, for argument’s sake, only 10% of the 10 million personswill be infected, that will translate into a million infections.
“If, as the objective trends analysis demonstrates, 10% of those infected people die, that will translate into 100 000 deaths.
If those deaths turn out in hindsight to have been preventable, then it is better to act now than after the fact. Even 1% of 10 million is 10 000 lives. The remotest risk will likely still have devastating consequences for human lives.”

He argued that the government's plan, which was a box-ticking exercise favoured the wealthy schools who would open ahead of under resources schools.

“Again, this will result in inequality and irrational differentiation or discrimination based on race and/or social origin. Hence, the prayer for a synchronised reopening only once all schools have been declared ready.”
He said the country and especially the department of education, was “not ready for reopening of the schools due to historical and present-day deficiencies in the education system, more particularly in poor areas inhabited by black people, where the risks are inherently heightened for obvious reasons”.
“Now is the time to tighten the restrictions, close down schools and keep people indoors. It should be remembered that the virus does not travel but people do. In this case, when pupils travel, the entire country will be in additional motion.”

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