South African President Jacob Zuma has called on the nation to undertake some serious introspection and come up with solutions to solve the challenge of violent protests.

Speaking during the commemoration of Youth Day in Soweto in Johannesburg Thursday, he said violent community protestsweare threatening to destroy the social fabric of society.

“There can be no justification for such violence in a country where unlike in June 1976, we have access to government at three spheres to communicate our grievances peacefully. We should remember that not a single school was burned during the June 16, 1976 student uprising,” President Zuma said.

This year marks 40 years since the June 16, 1976 Soweto uprising, when hundreds of young people protested against the apartheid government and their imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.

It was on this day that hundreds of young people lost their lives in the struggle for liberation, which started a revolt that spread to other parts of the country, paving the way for a South Africa that is democratic, non-racist, non-sexist and belonging to all who live in it.

President Zuma condemned the violence that has characterised some protests in the country, saying the conduct is unacceptable.

South Africa recently witnessed the burning of more than 20 schools in Vuwani, Limpopo Province, by people who were unhappy about their community being made part of another municipality.

“Hooliganism and thuggery do not build nations. I also wish to remind South African youth to uphold the values that we hold dear as a nation, such as Ubuntu and respect,” he said.

He urged South Africans to respect one another, regardless of age, even if they disagree on matters.

“In paying tribute to the class of 1976, we urge our youth to make education their apex priority too. Nothing must distract you from obtaining education,” he said.

President Zuma also encouraged young people to open up their own small businesses as the government had created opportunities for support by many agencies within government.

Speaking on behalf of families who lost loved ones in June 1976, Lesedi Mashinini said young people needed to take responsibility for their lives by making use of the opportunities of education available to them.

“During this Youth Month, let us remember that the only person that can liberate you as a young person is you. No amount of drugs or chasing material possessions ….. can change your situation. Education will liberate you. Use every minute of your life to make it better,” Mashinini said.

She is the niece of 1976 student leader Tsietsi Mashinini.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK      

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