EE calls on Schäfer to stop the appeal

Equal Education pickets outside the offices of the Western Cape Education Department.
Equal Education has given Education MEC Debbie Schäfer two weeks to respond to demands they made during their picket outside her office yesterday.

Groups of pupils from various schools were bused in to protest against the MEC’s decision to appeal a court ruling on school infrastructure.

In July, acting Judge Nomawabo Msizi fixed the unconstitutional loopholes in the Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure. The loopholes allowed Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to indefinitely delay fulfilling her obligations to fix schools. The judgment meant that government would be required to comply with the deadlines as set out in the Norms and Standards law.

Minister Motshekga and the Education MECs, including Ms Schäfer, are appealing the judgment of the Bhisho High Court as they argue that it will be impossible to comply with it.

The protesters, who included Unite Behind and parents, called on Ms Schäfer to #StopTheAppeal.

They argued that the money that the WCED will use on appeal can be used on fixing schools.

Newly elected Equal Education General Secretary Noncedo Madubedube said the pickets will take place across the country.

”Schools are not safe due to a lack of infrastructure. We are calling on Debbie [Schäfer] to stop the appeal. If the DA goes ahead with the appeal then it must forget the black vote in the Western Cape,” said Ms Madubedube.

Chwayita Mpheqeka represented the Marian Roman Catholic School at the picket outside the Western Cape provincial legislature.

“We are here today to plead with the MEC to stop the appeal. We feel that it’s not necessary for us to be here to be fighting with the MEC. We feel like the appeal is unnecessary because the Bhisho High Court ruled on this matter. We feel like it’s a waste of money because that should be going towards fixing our schools.”

Sesethu Mqashane, who is in Grade 11 at from Siphamandla Secondary School, in Khayelitsha agreed.

“We are here to stop the appeal. We just want the government to fix our schools. We won the court case. Now they want to appeal the ruling which will be a waste of time & resources. The money that’s going to be used on lawyers should be used to fix the schools.”

EE’s representatives handed over the memorandum which consisted of letters from learners and parents from various schools.

The memorandum was accepted and signed by Jerome Gordon, a specialist at the WCED, and Lance Abraham on behalf of Ms Schäfer, who was not at her office during the picket. 
Mr Gordon apologised for Ms Schäfer’s absence. He read a statement on her behalf in which she reiterated her commitment to providing safe schools. 

However, she said, it would be impossible to comply with the Mthatha High Court ruling.