ANC Women’s League also heaps praises on the former president for being ‘forward thinking’ in supporting a woman candidate at Nasrec
Just over a month after he snubbed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inauguration ceremony, former president Jacob Zuma this week alone made two public appearances that caused a stir, and have potentially driven a wedge between him and his successor.
Zuma was on Thursday lauded by members of the SA Students Congress (Sasco) and ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) for being “forward thinking” and for “his role in heeding the youth’s call and facilitating fee-free higher education, even in its imperfect state”.
He was also praised for “being in support of the governing party having its first woman president in the run-up to the party’s 54th elective conference”.
Sasco secretary-general Moipone Mhlongo, who is also a member of the University of Johannesburg student parliament and an ANC Youth League (ANCYL) regional task team member, said Zuma had “laid the foundation for fee-free higher education” and it was now time for Ramaphosa’s administration to build on it.
“Zuma played his role in pushing for fee-free education, yet when it was finally granted, government overlooked those who had fought for this free education,” Mhlongo said. “Instead, it [government] decided that it would start with first-year students.
“We as the Class of 2016 that fought for fee-free education are standing in front of you, comrades, to say it is not yet uhuru in institutions of higher learning.
“What exactly is free education to the ANC? Is it free on paper [only]? In reality, we have former and current student leaders who are being victimised on a daily basis in institutions of higher learning,” said Mhlongo.
“Today, we have Khaya Xhekesha, who is serving an eight-year sentence for something that is now benefiting those who did not fight for it.”
She challenged Ramaphosa’s administration, saying it should not rest on its laurels after Sasco campaigned with the ANC in last month’s elections.
“We are not giving the party a blank cheque. The governing party needs to work towards delivering not only fee-free education, but also a decolonised curriculum.”
This was met by loud applause from community members who packed the Jan Hofmeyr Recreation Centre in Sophiatown ahead of Zuma’s keynote speech on the ANCYL’s role in society today.
ANCWL member Pinky Nkuna also heaped praise on Zuma, saying it was clear that the ANC “at the moment is not ready to be led by a woman”.
She used Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s loss to Ramaphosa at the Nasrec conference in 2017 as a case in point, as well as the exclusion of ANCWL president Bathabile Dlamini from the Cabinet. Nkuna said Zuma had displayed forward thinking when he backed Dlamini-Zuma to be his successor.
Once on the podium, Zuma urged the youth league to throw its weight behind a president willing to implement the ANC’s resolutions and “not worry about how investor confidence would react to such steps”. He said his call was not “encouraging factionalism”, but a return of the organisation to the dictates of the Freedom Charter.
He reiterated that South Africans were not yet free, “but only liberated”, and stressed that it was up to the governing party “to stop sitting on its two-thirds majority” and start implementing polices that would benefit the majority of South Africans.
Zuma said there would be no need for the governing party to struggle to implement resolutions if the ANCYL, which is known for being militant, assumed its “rightful role” of ensuring that it supported a president willing to implement the party’s resolutions.
Then, on Friday, Zuma attended KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala’s state of the province address as a guest.
This angered the DA and EFF, whose members walked out during Zikalala’s speech in protest at the presence of Zuma and Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini.
The two opposition parties argued that Speaker Nontembeko Boyce had failed to consult them before bringing the two guests into the House.
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