Durban – Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Saturday called on teachers to create a new generation of selfless South Africans to ensure the economy is not "captured".
Gordhan was speaking at the SANTS Private Higher Education Institution graduation ceremony at the Durban International Convention Centre. Over 700 trainee teachers were graduating.
Addressing the more than 1 000 people in attendance, Gordhan highlighted the disparities in the distribution of wealth in South Africa and the world.
He lamented the fact that a minority controlled the global and local economy.
"That level of inequality across the globe is unacceptable. But in SA we also have that problem. There is a 1% that earns an enormous amount of wealth, probably 60 or 70% of the income of the population."
He said that education could play a key part in ensuring the economy is not controlled by a few people, but by everyone.
"We must transform our economy so there’s less inequality, poverty and greater ownership in our economy amongst all. In that sense, like the rest of the world, we face the challenge of how we liberate the economy from the capture of a few individuals."
Gordhan said that teachers used to be highly respected in society, but that respect had dwindled.
"When a teacher walked on the pavement close to you, you moved for them. You greeted them. Is it the same now? No. The young here have a responsibility to give the profession a new status."
He urged teachers to produce a new generation of Nelson Mandelas, Walter Sisulus and Oliver Tambos.
"Parliament will always be there. Who will sit in that parliament? What do they think about? Do they think about you or themselves? That’s the difference between good politicians and not so good politicians around the world."
According to Gordhan, teachers also needed to play a role in producing a group of citizens who are well informed.
"You need to prepare the young people for the changes around us," he said.
"We can’t sit back and expect the world to come to us. We cannot sit back and expect SA to succeed. We need to become competitive because the rest of the world and Africa is waking up."
He said that technological developments in Nigeria helped it attract investors.
"People are more willing to put money into those countries. We need to be equally determined so people come and invest with us."