Former president Jacob Zuma told scores of students at Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha on Wednesday that allegations of state capture were a “distortion”.
Zuma warned the students not to swallow everything they were fed.
He was addressing a free education lecture organised by the branch of the SA Students Congress at the university. He was welcomed with Struggle songs and much excitement.
Zuma asked the students: “What is state capture?”
He said no arm of the state was captured.
“I get worried if there are things that we can distort and then (they) become a fact when they are in fact not,” Zuma said.
He said the state was composed of three elements – the legislature‚ the judiciary and the executive – and that none of them were captured.
“What is this thing called state capture? We have a commission that is investigating state capture now. My view is that these are politically decorated expressions to achieve something.”
Speaking about free education the former president said the Freedom Charter did not dwell on free education but on compulsory education.
He said he announced free education as the president and a member of the ANC, as a person who went to prison and suffered and was still convinced free education was right for people especially those from poor backgrounds.
“We must be paying sufficient attention to compulsory education. We should not allow a situation where in South Africa there will be people who are not educated,” Zuma said.
“Those who drew up the Freedom Charter were very wise people because we were deprived of education (during apartheid). SA is the only country that institutionalised racism. If there was no institutionalised racism there wouldn’t be this situation in education. We are almost like somebody pleading guilty to a crime that you never committed. Education will liberate our country from economic exclusion, poverty and unemployment. We are here to plot advancement of radical economic transformation.”
He said free education would open doors of learning to the poor who struggled to gain entry into the university because their parents were not well off.
“No one with a degree must sit at home. You must go out and create employment. You just never allow this opportunity to be taken away from yourselves; you must be at the forefront of compulsory education.”
Zuma said freedom had not been fully reached as the nation was still economically colonised.
Masixole Sinqonqoloza, chairperson of Sasco, said: “It is important for the youth to be educated and we thank the former president for recognising that.”