Mmusi Maimane launches petition against 'gambling with children’s lives'

Mmusi Maimane says his petition is about sending a strong message to the government that it could not make 'rushed, ill-advised and half-baked decisions' to send children back to school before it was safe to do so.
Mmusi Maimane says his petition is about sending a strong message to the government that it could not make 'rushed, ill-advised and half-baked decisions' to send children back to school before it was safe to do so.
Image: Sunday Times/Alaister Russell

Former DA leader Mmusi Maimane has launched a petition to keep schools shut after basic education minister Angie Motshekga’s announcement that schools across the country would reopen in June.

Motshekga announced on Tuesday evening that schools would reopen for grade 7 and 12 pupils on June 1.

Maimane said the launch of the petition was to send a “strong message” to the government that they could not make “rushed, ill-advised and half-baked decisions” that could affect the safety and health of children.

“Section 28(2) of our constitution states that 'a child's best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child' and we believe the minister gave very little reassurance that her decision adheres to this fundamental right," Maimane told TimesLIVE on Wednesday. 

“The truth is that the politicians who make these decisions are too afraid to return to parliament but happy to send millions of children into crowded classrooms together - many without water and basic infrastructure. It's unacceptable,” he said. 

Maimane said the goal of the petition was to give a voice to ordinary South Africans, including teachers, parents, principals and school governing bodies.

By midday on Wednesday the petition had 21,000 signatories.

“Once our petition has enough support, we will deliver it to Minister Motshekga and President [Cyril] Ramaphosa,” said Maimane.


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