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Most Student Leaders Aren't Happy With Gordhan's Comments On The Youth Blaming Mandela

"He is choosing to see a very small part of a wider youth discussion around where we are today as a country."

27/07/2017 12:44 SAST | Updated 27/07/2017 13:03 SAST

A lecture addressed at the University of Johannesburg by former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his former deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, ended in a ruckus on Wednesday when students lashed out at the pair over their comments about white monopoly capital and corruption. They demanded answers on the concentration of ownership and white monopoly capital.

The lecture focused on state capture and transformation. The students, some from the Economic Freedom Fighters' (EFF) student command, and others dressed in African National Congress regalia, heckled Gordhan throughout his speech. The students brought the lecture to an abrupt close by chanting loudly over the speaker's voice.

The fracas was perhaps aggravated by Gordhan, who said last week Tuesday that young South Africans should stop blaming late statesman Nelson Mandela for their own failures and should take responsibility for their actions.

"We must stop blaming Madiba for our own human shortcomings, for our own sense of greed.

"We must stop blaming Madiba for our own human shortcomings, for our own sense of greed, for our lack of respect about what we need to building the foundation that he left for us", he said at the time.

Gordhan was part of the panel speaking at the inaugural Liliesleaf Legacy conference in mid July, held at Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, Johannesburg, at the time. Other guests included Roelf Meyer, who took part in the negotiations for a democratic transition, journalist Ranjeni Munusamy, and ANC member Febe Potgieter-Gqubule.

HuffPost South Africa spoke to youth movement representatives about how they interpreted Gordhan's comments.

Former UCT Fallist and gender rights activist Thato Pule said the minister was purposely misinterpreting their argument by saying the youth blamed Mandela for South Africa's current predicament.

Pule added that "he is choosing to see a very small part of a wider youth discussion around where we are today as a country, how we arrived here and what could we do to fix it. It is impossible to have this discussion without keeping past leaders accountable through interrogating their decisions and actions at very key moments in our history."

Member of the EFF student command at the University of Pretoria Naledi Chirwa said it was "disingenuous for Gordhan to be saying this". She said there were only a selected number of black people who have reaped the rewards of a democratic South Africa.

Chirwa said that it was not because people were lazy, but because they were still deprived of many privileges.

"The rest of us are still fighting for a place in society, we are still fighting for free education that was promised to us in 1994," she said.

But former Wits student and current MD of leadership training company, Tshimong, Thami Pooe, agreed with Gordhan.

He said: "The biggest misconception is that Mandela's role was beyond the transition but his role ended there. His role was to ensure a peaceful transition and what happened after that cannot be blamed on him."

Gordhan went on to publicly call for President Jacob Zuma to step down at the dialogue. He said state capture was a fact and no more evidence was needed from the leaked Gupta emails.

He also said: "What the public now want to know is, what are we doing about it?"

Gordhan continued: "I think the president should move aside and let somebody take over this country so that we can fulfill the aspiration that Madiba and his generation had for South Africa."