Zulu 'flipping angry' at youths who waste opportunities

2016-06-02 10:28
Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu. (Supplied)

Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu. (Supplied)

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Johannesburg - When she heard that a group of South African medical students studying in Cuba had started spending more time in church than in class, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said she was very angry.

As a youngster, she was given the opportunity to study abroad through the ANC's relationships with other countries, and had learnt more than she would have if she had stayed at home. She had hoped the students would be more appreciative.

"I am a product of the ANC sending me to Russia to study. I spent six-and-a-half years. I did my journalism and I came back with a masters degree in journalism," she told dozens of young people at Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown, Soweto.

She was speaking at an ANCYL event to mark the start of youth month and to commemorate the June 16, 1976 Soweto uprising's 40th anniversary.

"I speak Russian, I speak French, I speak kiSwahili. I didn't learn them just from sitting here at home, I learnt it because the African National Congress gave me an opportunity.

"That is why I was so flipping angry when I heard about what the students were doing in Cuba," she said.

In January, KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo and a delegation of government officials visited Cuba after learning that 150 students in Havana were spending up to seven hours a day, seven days a week, on church activities, rather than their medical studies.

'South Africans are too inward thinking'

Dhlomo said at the time that he had met Cuban officials and the managements of the universities where the South Africans were studying. Currently, 3 000 medical students were pursuing medical qualifications in Cuba, Dhlomo said.

He said the department had no problem with students taking part in religious activities, but it should not interfere with their reason for being in the country.

The students had used their stipends to fly in a pastor from Pietermaritzburg.

On Wednesday, Zulu said the students regretted their actions. She said young South Africans needed to learn that government was there to create the conditions to help them, but that the rest was up to them.

"You either get it happening for yourselves, or you don't. Government will create the necessary conditions for you to do that and I have said to you, it is not possible for us to cover everybody."

She urged young South Africans to explore outside the country and learn new languages and cultures.

"South Africans are too inward thinking, they don't want to go out there. They are afraid of even just stepping out of South Africa itself.

"I have been around the whole world, and whether I am in London or Italy or in Paris, I come across students from the African continent, hustling. I doubt that many of us want to go out there and hustle, so the one who has the opportunity for the students to go out gives them the opportunity to do that," Zulu said.

Deputy Higher Education Minister Mduduzi Manana, who also addressed the event, said there was a lack of awareness from youngsters about opportunities to study abroad.

China had committed 2 000 scholarships to the South African government, but they were not being taken up, perhaps because people did not know about them.

He said the Cuba matter had "almost tarnished" South Africa's relationship with that country. Extra precautions were now being taken when selecting students to study abroad.

Read more on:    anc  |  lindiwe zulu  |  johannesburg

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