Presiding over a poorly attended National Prayer Day, President Jacob Zuma warned political parties in the country to desist from using youths as “instruments of destruction” because this will affect the future one way or the other.
Without naming any party in particular, the president called on all South Africans to “isolate those who want to introduce a new culture of thuggery and hooliganism in our country”.
However, Zuma did not have to mention any name to the people gathered at Durban’s Kings Park Stadium to convince them that he was referring to Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters.
The National Prayer Day was aimed at praying for unity, peace, rain and successful local government elections.
He also condemned the destruction of infrastructure, adding that since 2009, the government had built 795 schools at a cost of R23-billion. In addition, 3 universities and 12 technical education colleges were also built.
“It causes us and all freedom-loving South Africans a lot of pain and disappointment to see such important infrastructure being destroyed,” he said.
Recent protests have seen several educational institutions destroyed or badly damaged in recent weeks, leading to hundreds of millions of rand in damage.
During the Vuwani protests in Limpopo, more than 20 schools were torched earlier this month.
Also, in February, protesters at the University of Cape Town burnt down paintings they had taken from the Fuller and Smuts residences.
Few days later, students at the University of North West set the science building on fire.
Fort Hare and the University of Johannesburg also had their own share of the madness as several buildings were burnt down.
Members of the EFF were accused of starting the UJ fire, a claim that was denied by the party’s student wing.
“Our people should condemn leaders and organisations that preach and promote violence. Nobody must turn our youth into instruments of destruction and use them to destroy property, including facilities that are aimed at building their future, to further their political ends,” Zuma said yesterday at the National Prayer Day.
“(The young) must respect their parents, respect one another, respect authority and respect the laws of their country,” he said.
“When we disagree, whether at home, school or work, we must do so respectfully and not lose our humanity or ubuntu. In all our homes and places of worship, let us pray for the return of that culture of respect among all our people.”
Vaal University of Technology also experienced some destruction to mention but a few.
Meanwhile, EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi responded to Zuma’s speech, accusing of being the “No 1 leader of violence”.
“It’s his government that killed workers in Marikana. God is not a thing to play around [with], to lie to. Hypocrites pray in public but kill people during the day.”
About 8000 people attended the prayer day which was moved from Moses Mabhida Stadium to Kings Park, probably because the attendance was too poor to fill the stadium.
According to reports, the National Prayer Day, organised by the Department of Social Development, was a replica of an ANC rally, with thousands of those in attendance clad in ANC T-shirts and just a few hundred people in white.