ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has joined President Jacob Zuma in criticising the use of the term “born-frees” to describe those who were born after the country’s democratic transition, and in defending Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Mantashe spoke during the memorial lecture of late AmaXhosa king Hintsa kaKhawuta in Butterworth, Eastern Cape, last night. The event was organised by the King Hintsa Public FET College, based in Butterworth, and saw hundreds of students bused to the Christian Church to hear Mantashe speak. “I hate that term which most people use to describe our young people, calling them born-frees. It’s liberal and it is destroying our young people,” said Mantashe. He said the term suggested those born into freedom had no history and told the audience, mostly made up of youth, to reject the use of the term. “It says you have no history and if you have no history you are like a tree without roots. You can’t disown your own history because heritage is very important to us,” he said to loud applause. Mantashe, who started his address by apologising for arriving late, also defended Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Teachers’ union Sadtu has repeatedly called for her sacking. Mantashe arrived at the Christian Centre at 8.40pm, though he was billed to speak at 5pm and many who had come to listen to him left disappointed. He said criticism towards Motshekga was unjustified, charging that under her leadership matric results had improved significantly. He also credited her for introducing the Annual National Assessment (ANA), which he said was one of the greatest tools that sought to improve the standard of education in the country. Mantashe also took a swipe at recently defected ANC stalwart in the Eastern Cape, Mkhangeli Matomela, who left the party because he thought it was part of the anti-Christ movement. “The ANC is deeply integrated to Christianity,” he said. On Hintsa, the Xhosa monarch and warrior who died in 1835, Mantashe said it was fitting and an honour to have the college named after him [Hintsa]. Mantashe described Hintsa as a generous ruler who was alert to the dangers of capitalism.