Attendees at an earlier Robert Mugabe memorial lecture delivered by former president Thabo Mbeki. File picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA).

Newcastle - Young ANC activists in Newcastle, northern KwaZulu-Natal, have pledged to respect late former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe by preaching unity among African people and fighting for an end of attacks on foreign nationals.

The young activists, who are also students at the local Majuba TVET College in Madadeni were at the institution on Thursday to listen to former president Jacob Zuma deliver a lecture on Mugabe, who died on September 6. 

Siyabonga Mbokazi said in respect of Mugabe, South Africans should embrace foreign nationals from across the continent. 

Mbokazi said as a human being, Mugabe made mistakes, but his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa and those who will follow can still correct those mistakes. 

“Anyone has a good and a bad side, but he is still the hero because he fought for the liberation of Zimbabweans.

“Here in South Africa we recognise him because he studied at the University of Fort Hare,” said Mbokazi.

Vusi Thela, a member of the South African Students Congress (Sasco) in northern Zululand, said Mugabe was part of the heritage of the ANC and ANC Youth League . 

“Mugabe was instrumental in establishing the ANCYL at Fort Hare...that generation adopted the Freedom Charter, which should be guiding government policies.

“We appreciate the role he played together with Nelson Mandela and others who were part of establishing the youth league. As a result whenever I look at Robert Mugabe, I don’t look at a president from another country, but I look at him as one of our own,” said Thela.

Mechanical engineering student Sphesihle Magagula said despite Mugabe’s shortcomings, South Africa can still learn from Mugabe when it came to prioritising education. 

“We should make education fashionable by ensuring that with the little that we have, we transform education to meet the standard of migration to technology so that when students exit institutions of higher learning they are able to be absorbed by the working environment,” said Magagula. 

Zuma is the latest ANC national figure to deliver a lecture on Mugabe in the province. The first was delivered by former president Thabo Mbeki at the Durban City Hall last month and he was followed by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall. Both venues were packed to capacity.  

Zuma was expected to speak later on Thursday.

Political Bureau