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President Jacob Zuma on Saturday said that if people wanted to engage with the party they couldn’t do it through violence.
“Your methods of engaging with the ANC cannot involve violence, burning of property and looting. You have to defend our democracy and its gains,” he said at a Youth Month rally at the Kings Park stadium in Durban.
“There is no grievance that is too big that it cannot be addressed through democratic means.”
Zuma’s comments follow violent protests that erupted in parts of Tshwane this week after the party announced Thoko Didiza as the city’s mayoral candidate for the local government elections on August 3. At least five people died in the ensuing violence.
Some residents said they wanted current mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa to be the candidate.
Zuma said on Saturday that the youth represented the future of the ANC and the country.
“If the movement is loved by the youth to the point that you are asking us to step aside so that you can lead, it means the future is bright.”
He said the country on June 16 celebrated the youth of 1976 that had contributed immensely to quality education and freedom.
He told the gathering that the 1976 students understood that Afrikaans was being used as an instrument to make life more difficult for black people.
He said the students rejected the racist National Party which came into power and institutionalised racism in its apartheid system.
“They rejected the inferior Bantu education which taught them that they were second-class citizens in their own country.”
The Soweto uprising served as a springboard for resistance in many other parts of the country and marked a turning point.
“We remember and pay tribute to all those that fought against the tyranny of apartheid… in the June 16 uprising.”
He said it was that generation which had produced the likes of Solomon Mahlangu.
“The current generation owes a permanent debt to the youth of 1976 which can be repaid by continuing the struggle of total emancipation…”
He said today’s youth were fighting for employment.
“While you struggle for more inclusion in shaping the future of the country, we encourage you to make maximum use of the opportunities given to you, especially in education.”