Stop deifying Mandela to promote own interests - Nzimande

2016-07-26 11:00
Blade Nzimande has addressed a student election rally in Cape Town. (News24)

Cape Town - People should stop deifying former president Nelson Mandela to promote their own interests, because he was a revolutionary, said Blade Nzimande at a student election rally in Cape Town on Monday.

"It is good that he is respected as a global icon, but he was the first commander of uMkhonto we Sizwe in order to fight injustice," said Nzimande.

He was addressing students at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in his capacity as SA Communist Party general secretary and African National Congress national executive committee member.

His comments come after a furore over the Democratic Alliance's use of Mandela's moral authority in its election campaign.

Nzimande said that he recently visited the grave sites of the black and white soldiers who were among the more than 2 500 killed at the Battle of Delville Wood, in France, during World War 1.

They were only allowed to load guns for white soldiers and had gone over with the blessing of the ANC, with the understanding that there would be discussions over black rights on their return with then-head of state Jan Smuts.

Rousing welcome

"Of course, Smuts never delivered," said Nzimande.

He urged students to vote for the ANC in the August 3 municipal elections, saying it was the only party which could deliver quality education.

Nzimande received a rousing welcome from the students gathered in an auditorium in the commerce building.

This was in contrast to being booed and drowned out during the #feesmustfall protests in 2015 after students stormed Parliament's precinct.

Asked later whether there had been a decision yet on fee increases for 2017, he said that was still a work in progress.

Last year, the government announced a university fee freeze in response to the protests.

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