WATCH | Malema wants principals and parents to push govt to delay opening of schools

  • EFF leader Julius Malema has cautioned the government against the reopening of schools. 
  • Malema announced the EFF would be closing all its offices until it gets direction from the government on Covid-19. 
  • He said parents and school principals must lobby the government to postpone the reopening of schools. 

EFF leader Julius Malema has called for a postponement of schools reopening until it is safe to do so amid the second wave of Covid-19.

Malema said civil society, trade unions, principals and parents must unite and call for the postponement of the resuming of schooling activities, until such a point where it was safe to send children to schools. 

"We do not want to be in a position where we tell this government we told you so, when the lives of children are lost to Covid-19. Our country will be confronted by unprecedented levels of depression and sorrow, should children begin dying in their numbers at the hands of this virus.

"Families start losing their children because as leaders we failed to respect the situation we find ourselves and preserve the future of our nation. As the EFF, we oppose the gambling of the lives of children, to a virus that all of humanity is yet to properly understand," he added.

READ | Covid-19: If NCCC keeps schools closed, independent schools will go online - association

Malema also called for the postponement of local government elections and by-elections, warning they could be possible superspreaders of the virus. 

Speaking at a virtual media briefing he held on Thursday, the EFF leader said running elections in the current climate would constitute an undermining of democracy, as well as putting the lives of society at risk. 

His statement came after the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) announced it had approached the Electoral Court to postpone January and February by-elections due to the adjusted Level 3 lockdown. 

"South Africa lacks the technical capacity and moral integrity to attempt to run an election in any other way besides direct voting through the ballot and the only sensible way to do this, without risking life and undermining democracy, is through the merging of all elections in 2024. 

READ | Covid-19: National Coronavirus Command Council wants reopening of schools postponed

"The SG [secretary general Marshall Dlamini] of the EFF will begin a process of engaging all political parties on this position, and present to them the already developed concept document on the consolidation of elections as the future of South Africa's electoral system," Malema said.

The concept of merging elections has already been touted by the ANC, with the DA rejecting the proposal. 

The EFF had suspended all political activity pending further guidance by the government on Covid-19, Malema said, adding the decision came after careful consideration of the impact that resuming political activity might have on the spreading of the virus and how it might contribute to the further loss of life. 

"We have therefore resolved to postpone indefinitely the EFF's plenum, which is a meeting of elected leaders of the EFF and public representatives, to forge plans and political activity for the upcoming year.

"The CCT further resolved to keep all offices closed and keep all level of engagements in line with Covid-19 regulations, to ensure that we minimise interaction between people in this difficult and uncertain times," he added. 

The party's Labour and Gender-Based Violence desks will continue being active, using digital measures to receive queries and calls for assistance from the public.

This commitment, Malema said, should be met in good faith by President Cyril Ramaphosa's government, whom he cautioned should provide relief to all those negatively affected by the lockdown, both economically and socially.

READ | Qaanitah Hunter | Dear Mr President, it is time for you to start answering questions

"The EFF calls for the reinstatement of all social and economic relief measures to protect the livelihoods of small business and the poorest of the poor. This includes extending the Covid-19 grant beyond the current regime, which sees the last payments being made in January 2021.

"Government must ensure that they continue to provide relief to small businesses through the unemployment insurance fund and TERS Relief Scheme, and any businesses owners who claim from government yet do not pay employees must face harsh consequences," he added.

Malema urged the government to compel all banks to provide payment holidays on repayments of mortgages, rent repayments as well as loans and credit facilities for a period of six months. 

He called for a halt on all evictions, adding it would be inhumane to subject people to homelessness in a time of national and global tragedy.

"These measures must be coupled with a high level of political conscience, meaning there must be no looting of funds or resources set aside for the relief of citizens as we saw in the early days of PPE procurement last year.

"We therefore call for the state investigations unit, the Hawks and South African Police Services, to work diligently in identifying and arresting all criminals, including those who are members of the state, who abused the tender system in order to line their own pockets," Malema said.

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