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Political parties lambast Ramaphosa over month-long closure of schools

The EFF has called it a ‘PR stunt’, while the DA called Cyril Ramaphosa a ‘spectator president’ who bows to unions.

FILE: On Thursday, 23 July President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that all public schools would close for four weeks, while matrics and grade 7 pupils would return earlier. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – Opposition parties have criticised government's decision to close public schools for up to four weeks, questioning the reasoning behind it.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have called it a ‘PR stunt’, while the Democratic Alliance (DA) called Cyril Ramaphosa a ‘spectator president’ who bows to unions.

Teacher unions convinced Ramaphosa to keep teachers and children at home for four weeks during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, although they wanted the closure for longer.

Matrics and grade 7 pupils will return sooner.

The EFF has accused the President of basing his decision to close schools again on incorrect COVID-19 data, calling for independent scientists to step in.

The red berets said Ramaphosa's decision must rather be guided by the World Health Organization.

EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo said: “It is also extremely disappointing and reveals incompetence that Ramaphosa insists on the exhibition of the rapid rise of infections and loss of life before he takes logical decisions and protect human life.”

Meanwhile, the DA is also not supporting the President's move, accusing him of putting unions first while children – who could not vote – come last.

The DA’s interim leader John Steenhuisen said: “The scientific information shows school do not expose learners and staff to a higher risk of infection than other places.”

The Basic Education Department said government considered the strain placed on pupils and teachers through increased psychological and emotional stress during the COVID-19 pandemic when it made the decision to close schools for a month.