Dlamini Zuma was speaking as a guest of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), her staunchest backers for the party’s presidency, at its Free Education Lecture on Thursday night at the Durban University of Technology’s ML Sultan campus.
“An uneducated population is a recipe for disaster; therefore education is important because it is the quickest equaliser against poverty and we can’t deal with poverty if the people are not skilled,” she said.
Dlamini Zuma called for education to be used as a primary tool for black people’s liberation just as it had been used by the apartheid regime as a primary tool for their oppression.
“Africa has agreed on a continental skills revolution, to produce skilled people from technical people to artisans, researchers and engineers.
“In South Africa, we’ve got 3000km of coastline and we need to develop our ocean economy, and we need skilled people in that area too,” Dlamini Zuma said.
She said no child should be denied an education because they could not pay. “Cuba is a poorer country than South Africa, but it has a free education, and 60% of the population has a junior-level degree.
“When you have skills, you will become innovators and industrialists,” she said.
The transformation of South African education, Dlamini Zuma said, should mean that university structures reflected the demographics of South Africa.
Lamenting that most of academics at institutions of higher learning were white males, Dlamini Zuma said producing black academics was of great significance.
“It’s very important to have African professors, particularly black African women because young African women need role models to aspire to, in order to get there too,” she said.
She told the youth league that it had the “vitality, vibrancy and strength of youth”, and they should work in tandem to transform education and the economy to make South Africa prosperous.
“Through education we need to produce entrepreneurs to grow the economy because it will not grow if the people are unskilled and are not included in it,” Dlamini Zuma said.
She also urged students not to be anarchic, but to be disciplined in both their studies and activism, and to ensure that they passed as that would help the ANC’s radical economic transformation objectives.
Leaders of the ANCYL, including provincial secretary-general Thanduxolo Sabela and national secretary general Njabulo Nzuza, and eThekwini ANC regional chairperson Bheki Ntuli were unequivocal in their support of Dlamini Zuma to succeed her former husband, President Jacob Zuma, as the ruling party’s leader.
Meanwhile, in an earlier media briefing called by the Tripartite Alliance, it was bombarded with questions on whether the ANC’s provincial leadership would force the ANCYL to offer the apology demanded by the Active Citizens Movement (ACM), for disruptions at the Ahmed Kathrada memorial service earlier this month.
Super Zuma, ANC provincial secretary-general, said the party’s provincial leaders were in negotiations with the ACM in the hope of reaching “an amicable solution”.
The civil society organisation recently revealed it was forging ahead with filing contempt of court papers against the ANCYL unless it offered an “unconditional apology”.