Angie betrayed us, says ANC
THE ANC in Western Cape and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga appear to be headed for a collision over what the party perceives to be a betrayal.
The ANC in the province had expected Motshekga to back it in its fight against the DA over the closure of 20 schools.
Though Motshekga had initially advised the party on how to fight the DA-led provincial education department, court papers filed in the Cape Town High Court show she has no intention of opposing the closures.
On Tuesday, 18 schools filed an application asking the c ourt to interdict the provincial education department from closing them down at the end of the year.
Initially, Education MEC Donald Grant had announced 27 schools would be closed down due to "falling standards, dropping student numbers and poor facilities". But a fierce public campaign, led by the provincial ANC, saw the number reduced to 20.
In her submission, Motshekga said that in terms of the Schools Act, the decision to close down schools rested with education MECs and that she herself had not taken any decision to do so.
"At this stage, I can't express myself on the question of the provisions of Section 33 of the SA Schools Act, and whether it was properly complied with and applied by the MEC [Donald Grant]," said Motshekga.
But Western Cape ANC spokesman on education Millicent Tingwe said Motshekga's court submission was an act of betrayal after she had earlier allegedly seemed supportive of plans to oppose the closures.
"She's selling us out; she's only covering her back to defend the closure of other schools around the country," said Tingwe.
She claimed Motshekga had "advised" the provincial ANC on which steps to take in opposing the closures.
Motshekga said she had had no time to acquaint herself with the matter or receive legal representation to assist the court.
She argued in her papers that granting an interdict to keep the schools open would have "far-reaching" implications for all provincial education departments and the system of basic education .
She said Section 33 of the Schools Act was an important and necessary piece of legislation.
"It is essential that it be possible for schools to be closed by the provincial authorities. Closure may be necessitated by a wide range of considerations," Motshekga said.
Beauvallon Secondary School principal Clyde Hockey argued in court papers that Grant's decision to close the schools was not in the best interests of the affected children and would infringe on their right to an education.
He denied that any of the schools had consented and agreed to the decision to close them as alleged in the Western Cape education department's submission.
The Cape Town High Court is expected to hear arguments on Tuesday and Wednesday.