Motshekga hits back at opposition criticism over the decision to open schools

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Minister of basic education Angie Motshekga.
Minister of basic education Angie Motshekga.
Gallo Images/Phill Makagoe
  • Angie Motshekga denies she is a "stubborn minister", saying she consulted widely on the opening of schools.
  • She called the EFF opportunistic and populist for invoking dead children to make a political point.
  • She said it was the DA's mandate to reject everything.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga took exception to being called a "stubborn minister" after she was criticised for the decision to open schools amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Opposition MPs from the EFF, NFP, IFP and AIC criticised her for this decision during the debate on her department's adjusted budget in a virtual mini-plenary of the National Assembly on Wednesday afternoon.

The usually demure Motshekga came out guns blazing when closing the debate; she dismissed the opposition as "anti-everything", offering nothing constructive.

READ | Schools reopening: Union threatens to shut down schools

"But I guess the ANC has delivered democracy to them, let them enjoy," she added. She said it was unfortunate that she was described as a stubborn minister.

"The minister does not take decisions on her own."

Legitimate structures

She said she consulted all stakeholders the previous week, and all provinces supported the opening of schools.

She said she is talking about legitimate structures, which have the authority to decide on the children's future.

She questioned MPs, who said they spoke on behalf of the parents.

READ | Cabinet causing 'anxiety' as it dithers to keep schools open or not, unions say

"They have spoken for themselves. Don't speak for them," she exclaimed.

She accused the EFF, whose MP Reneiloe Mashabane spoke of children who died in pit latrines, of "opportunism and populism" and said it is very sad that leaders invoke the deaths of children.   

She said the DA – who raised several issues – would disagree with her, even if she repeated their own suggestions. It is the DA's mandate to reject everything, she said.

"If they were to agree, I would know something is wrong," she said.

The previous day, Motshekga told the National Council of Provinces she will provide a "consensus position" on whether schools should open or close as Covid-19 infections continue to rise - as soon as Cabinet approves it.

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