|2012 06 25 More woes for Motshekga|
Education Minister Angie Motshekga has been denied a third extension for filing her answering affidavits in the Bisho High Court. Non-profit organisations Equal Education and Legal Resources Centre have launched a landmark case to have a minimum norms and standards policy adopted for school infrastructure.
The organisations brought their application against Motshekga, the MECs for education, and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in March.
The first part of the case deals with emergency relief for two Eastern Cape schools. According to the Legal Resources Centre, the negotiations to reach a settlement are continuing.
The second focuses on the implementation is of minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure.
Most of the defendants , including Gordhan, have filed replying affidavits in which they say that they will abide by the court's decision, but Motshekga has indicated that she will oppose the action. She will have to justify her opposition to the court.
The Legal Resources Centre's Cameron McConnachie yesterday said that Motshekga had on Monday last week asked for a third extension for filing her answering affidavits, but the centre opposed the application.
"She keeps on postponing and we don't want to jeopardise the case by waiting any longer than necessary. So we went ahead and applied for a court date," said McConnachie.
Equal Education coordinator Doron Isaacs said Motshekga "cannot hold up this case indefinitely".
Court papers filed by the organisations paint a bleak picture of schools around the country. They say that many schools have to make do without proper sanitation, furniture, libraries or laboratories.
The organisations want to discuss short- and long-term interventions and asked the minister to prevent the "complete collapse of the public education system".
On Friday, Motshekga hosted a press conference at which she called for "perspective" on her department after widespread bad publicity.
She was quoted in the Sowetan newspaper as saying that there was "no crisis" in education and that litigation against her department in Limpopo and Eastern Cape was a ploy intended to "sensationalise delicate matters".
The Limpopo and Eastern Cape education departments have been placed under administration.
"I cannot say it is perfect. It is not easy because it is complex and has challenges, but MECs make it manageable," she said.
In response, Equal Education and other civil society organisations wrote an open letter expressing their concerns, which included failure to combat sexual violence at schools, irregularities in the awarding of education departments' tenders, and failure to "revise the national policy on [schoolgirl] pregnancies".
Motshekga could not be reached for comment yesterday .