Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Picture: SIPHIWE SIBEKO, REUTERS
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Picture: SIPHIWE SIBEKO, REUTERS

Former African Union chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a contender for the ANC presidency, has lent her support to the call for free education in SA.

Dlamini-Zuma delivered the keynote address at the ANC Youth League Free Education Lecture at a packed hall in Durban’s University of Technology on Thursday evening.

Dlamini-Zuma received a rapturous welcome from the crowd, which sang songs saying she was destined to lead the ANC and SA into a prosperous future.

Also present were several ANC provincial leaders, including youth league provincial secretary-general Njabulo Nzuza and the league’s provincial chairman, Kwazi Mshengu.

It was the second time in less than a week that Dlamini-Zuma addressed a meeting organised by an official ANC structure, leading her detractors to complain she is being given an unfair advantage over other contenders.

Dlamini-Zuma is tipped to run against Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa for the ANC presidency when Jacob Zuma’s term ends in December.

Last week Dlamini-Zuma took a dig at former Model C schools, telling an ANC cadre forum in the Free State that learners in these schools were taught that the ANC was "useless" and "corrupt". She called on these schools — which were the better government schools in the suburbs — to transform.

Here, too, she received wild cheering from ANC members when she made these and other utterances.

In Durban on Thursday Dlamini-Zuma upped the ante, denouncing apartheid and colonial education, calling for a skills revolution, and saying free education was a necessity at the current juncture of development in SA.

She said education was a real equaliser, that would reduce the gap between black poverty and white wealth.

"We cannot justify to deny education to any child on the basis of poverty or lack of funds…. We need young people who are educated to drive this economy. They (apartheid and colonial leaders) used education as a tool of oppression, we must use education for liberation," she said.

Dlamini-Zuma said both the Freedom Charter and the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) documents emphasised that education was one of the five pillars required to develop the country.

She said young people needed to acquire engineering and technical skills to build and maintain infrastructure in SA.

"As Africa we have all the minerals that we need. But why we don’t have all the jobs that we need? It is important that we use our natural and mineral materials to develop our continent.

"But the road towards all that goes through education and that is why we must ensure that quality education is accessible to all our people," she said.

Nzuza said earlier in the evening that ANC members should never vote for a leader who publicly denounced decisions taken by the leadership.

This was a veiled attack on Ramaphosa who, along with ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe and treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, distanced themselves from Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle earlier this month in which former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcembisi Jonas were shown the door.

The three ANC leaders argued that the president had not consulted them before making the reshuffle.

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