If it was up to me, I would have serious laws about education - Jacob Zuma

ANC KZN chairperson Sihle Zikalala says President enjoys full support of all of us in province

My only problem was Constitution and mothers - Zuma on education policies

Nkandla – The only thing that came between President Jacob Zuma making serious changes to education policies was the Constitution, he said on Thursday.

"If it was up to me, I would have serious laws about education. My only problem was the Constitution and mothers," he told more than 5 000 people at the 15th Jacob Zuma RDP Education Trust Children and Youth’s Christmas party in Nkandla.

"When I was campaigning to be the president for the first time, I took a decision that I would change things, but democracy is complicated. I said that teenagers should not get pregnant and become mothers while they are young.

"I wanted to send those young mothers to college to study and complete their studies, without even going home...

"I also wanted the young fathers to also go to college so that they could be empowered, so that they could take care of the child that they brought into the world prematurely.

"When I said that, mothers complained."

'Education is a weapon'

Among the guests were graduates that had benefited from the RDP Education Trust and the Jacob Zuma Foundation.

He said the graduates were proof to the young children that "anything was possible".

"When you have a dream and perseverance, nothing is impossible. If you are defeated, then it means you doubted yourself."

He said the trust and the foundation aimed at improving the lives of those who came from rural areas, adding that it was important to improve the lives of people so that they, in turn, could improve the circumstances in their families.

Zuma said what worried him the most was that the foundation had produced many successful graduates, however, they struggled to find employment.

"We believe that education is like a weapon that you can use to protect yourself. It is like a spear. It can be likened to wings that you get after you have been educated, you can fly, and fly above the clouds and see the world differently to the average person.

"Education is a weapon to improve the conditions in your family and the country. Education changes you... it makes you see things differently."

'We have no doubt in Zuma’s leadership'

He said, with an educated nation, the country could become better and would not need to depend on other counties.

Zuma said the graduates encouraged the younger generation "to persevere in difficult circumstances".

"Educating the youth... [is] important and will build the nation," he added.

Most of the guests at the event used the opportunity to speak out against calls for Zuma to resign.

KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development MEC and ANC provincial chair Sihle Zikalala said: "The president is going to be the president of the ANC until 2017, but will remain the president of the country until 2019.

"The people that voted for the ANC are in the locations and rural areas, they are the poor, they won’t be dictated to by radio stations and newspapers and other people who are dreaming who will lead. As South Africans, we chose who will lead us, we have no doubt in Zuma’s leadership.

"We have had presidents in the past who oppressed us in this democracy, but under President Jacob Zuma, we saw policies and laws that oppressed black people change.”

"The enemy of a black person would never go against something that improves the life of a black person. Zuma enjoys the full support of all of us here in KZN, not on the basis of Zulus, but on the basis of the leadership he has provided in this country.

"Let us not be dictated to by people who live in urban areas and drive big fancy cars. There is poverty, and these interventions will help us. Educating one child means that that child will assist their family."

'No one will speak for the president if we don’t'

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini asked the community of Nkandla why it was silent "while Zuma was being attacked".

"No one will speak for the president if we don’t. We can’t be told by people from other countries that we should remove our president. The president has showed us that we need to be brave..."

ANC Youth League provincial secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo said: "Those that don’t want Zuma to finish his term, we want to say that they need to go through us before they get to him, because we are the first line of defence of the president of the ANC."

"The new ANC president that will be elected, we wish you let them know that, they should not rush, 2019 is coming, they will become president."

Some of the guests who attended the event were chairperson of the Jacob Zuma Foundation, Dudu Myeni, Dlamini and her deputy Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa and his wife, Philisiwe.

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development MEC Sihle Zikalala, and eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede, as well as members of the Zulu royalty, were also in attendance.

ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize was seated next to Nigerian-born American tycoon Kase Lawal.