South Africa 14.8.2018 11:05 am

Protesters gatecrash Ramaphosa speech

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the 10th Brics Summit in Johannesburg, 25 July 2018. Picture: ANA

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the 10th Brics Summit in Johannesburg, 25 July 2018. Picture: ANA

Equal Education demonstrators questioned why the government was appealing a judgment that tightened obligations on the state to fix ablution facilities in schools.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has launched a public-private partnership that will provide innovative, safe ablution facilities at nearly 4 000 mostly rural and township schools, but the event was met with protest.

Protesters from Equal Education quietly stood in front of the stage, holding up placards, while the president was giving his speech.

The Sanitation Appropriate for Education (Safe) initiative is a partnership between government, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the National Education Collaboration Trust, and to which the private sector has been invited to contribute.

In his keynote address at the launch of Safe in Pretoria today, Tuesday, August 14, President Ramaphosa said the initiative was a response to “an urgent human need”.

“We are here to ask you to be part of a bold social initiative to ensure that every school in the country has safe and appropriate sanitation facilities,” the president said.

“This is an initiative that will save lives and restore the dignity of tens of thousands of our nation’s children, as our Constitution demands.

“Safe will spare generations of young South Africans the indignity, discomfort and danger of using pit latrines and other unsafe facilities in our schools.

“Schools should be places where children can be safe, supported, nurtured and empowered.”

South Africa has nearly 4 000 schools that only have pit latrines or other inappropriate sanitation facilities.

Ramaphosa said Safe was a response to an emergency that had claimed the lives of children, such as five-year-old Michael Komape in Limpopo in 2014 and Lumka Mkethwa in the Eastern Cape in March this year.

The president invited international agencies, the private sector and nongovernmental organisations to support the Safe initiative, and called on companies to help construct models of new-technology toilets as a core component of the plan for each school.

Companies are also invited to adopt groups of schools as model schools for joint sanitation-water-energy off-grid solutions.

Ramaphosa said the new initiative was a demonstration of how partners could collaborate in responding to urgent challenges.

Equal Education (EE) demonstrators attended the launch to protest an appeal launched by the president’s lawyers against a high court judgment that obliged the government to provide sanitation to schools, the organisation said.

In a tweet, EE said: “Ramaphosa expects with one hand to make glossy [but necessary] announcements of sanitation interventions while quietly with other hand attempts to dodge court judgements which say sanitation is an immediately realisable right.”

https://twitter.com/equal_education/status/1029270313677344768

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