Cape Town - Western Cape ANC education spokesperson Khalid Sayed has written to legislature speaker Mnqasela Masizole, asking him to urgently intervene in the issue of scheduling an education standing committee meeting to discuss learner placement challenges in the province.
Sayed said in his letter to the speaker that a meeting of the standing committee whose date and agenda had been agreed upon had been scheduled for Tuesday but was abruptly postponed by committee chairperson Deidré Baartman (DA) at the request of Education MEC David Maynier.
The meeting was postponed at the last minute after Education MEC David Maynier wrote to committee chairperson Deidré Baartman (DA), in response to her invitation, to say the issue of unplaced learners was before the Western Cape High Court.
Sayed wanted the committee to receive a briefing from Maynier and the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) on the 2022 Metro East placements and the 2023 admissions across the province.
“To our shock and dismay, on August 1, a day before the scheduled meeting, we received communication from the committee chair announcing her intention to postpone the meeting, citing the sub judice principle.”
In his letter to the speaker, Sayed said Baartman took a unilateral decision despite the procedural advice from the procedural officer Wasiema Moosa, which clearly showed no contravening of the rules if the meeting were to go ahead.
Sayed quoted Moosa’s letter, which said, in part: “The standing rules do not prevent committees from discussing a matter that is sub judice. However, Standing Rule 63 (1) states that no member may suggest what conclusions a court should come to. Rule 63(3) further states no member may intimidate or bring improper influence to bear on witnesses in matters under judicial consideration.”
Nevertheless, he noted that Moosa had advised that the meeting be postponed as a precautionary measure.
Sayed said: “Based on our legal advice, which we have sought from two counsels, there is no basis for using the sub judice rule to block discussions on 2023 admissions.”
Contacted for comment, Baartman said: “In the minister’s letter, he committed to brief the standing committee as soon as the court case had been concluded.”
Baartman said due to the sensitive, legal nature of the matter, she considered it best to have the discussion once everything was finalised in court.
Responding to the Cape Argus’ queries about whether the speaker would take any action on the matter and, if so, what the procedure was, the speaker’s office would only confirm that it had received Sayed’s letter and would respond to him in due course.