Zuma speaks at launch of UKZN’s peace studies

2008-09-18 00:00

Peace and the ANC president, Jacob Zuma, took centre stage in Durban yesterday at a historic launch of the Gandhi-Luthuli Chair of Peace Studies at the University of KZN.

Zuma summed up the significance of the event to KZN when he said the Chair of Peace Studies honours two of the most outstanding political figures that walked on the soil of this province and this country — Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Luthuli. The occasion was marked by pomp and splendour with the establishment of the chair, hailed as the result of 10 years of negotiation between South Africa and India.

Sharing the stage with Zuma was India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Anand Sharma.

Both men stressed the need for the youth to learn about peace. “The launch of this chair is not happening in a political vacuum. I hope that through this initiative youth respect and cherish values of peace and solve human challenges in a non-violent way. I look forward to sterling research that explores conflict and non-violence on our continent,” said Zuma.

Sharma said the chair will go a long way towards ensuring that the younger generation remains connected to “our shared histories of oppression and the fight for freedom”. He added that the peace studies initiative will provide a platform for scholars to research the causes of violence and bloodshed.

Zuma’s arrival caused a stir on the local campus. There was a heavy security presence. Police patrolled the perimeter and students massed in a cordoned-off area outside the Rick Turner building to catch a glimpse of the ANC leader. Students both inside and outside the hall sang songs such as My President and Mshini wami while waiting.

In his keynote address, Zuma addressed the problem of crime in South Africa, saying he is aware of the impact crime is having on communities.

“We are doing everything in our power to bring about safety and security, as the ruling party.”

He acknowledged the presence of Professor Fatima Meer in the audience, calling her “a veteran of struggle”. He addressed the history of collaboration between the ANC and the Congress Party of India and noted that Sharma was an active participant in the anti-apartheid movement in India.

Both speakers made the link between peace and the fight against poverty. Zuma said crime prevention, health, education, land and agrarian reform were the ANC’s priorities over the next five years. He said the aim is also to intensify efforts to introduce free and compulsory education for the poor until tertiary level.

Sharma added that, “We cannot have islands of affluence amidst oceans of poverty.”

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