16/06/2017 18:48 SAST | Updated 16/06/2017 18:48 SAST

Zuma, Malema, Maimane: Three Leaders' Messages For SA's Youth

Three of the biggest issues facing SA's young people is education, drugs, and unemployment.

John Wessels / Getty Images

Education, drugs and youth unemployment: these were some of the hot topics South Africa's political leaders chose to focus on during Youth Day rallies across the country.

President Jacob Zuma, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane and Economic Freedom Fighters commander-in-chief Julius Malema all spearheaded their party's campaigns on Friday, addressing crowds at events in the North-West, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng respectively.

Zuma, who spoke in Ventersdorp, mostly boasted about the ANCS's accomplishments, speaking about improvements brought about by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, the National Development Plan and the Expanded Public Works Programme.

He said for the current financial year, government has allocated 12 billion rand in total to improve schools' infrastructure; NSFAS had disbursed more than R72 billion in loans and bursaries to students from poor households; and 1.2 million work opportunities have been taken up by the youth out of the 2.6 million work opportunities created by the EPWP.

"Education is the most powerful weapon towards economic freedom. Government has taken reasonable and practical measures in ensuring that young people are enrolled in schools and study in decent schools and not mud schools and other inappropriate structures," Zuma said.

"Many learners come from poor homes where they go to school without having had something to eat. It is for this reason that we started the National School Nutrition Programme, which benefits nine million learners from 21,000 schools per day to improve their performance in class. For the current financial year, government will spend some R6.8 billion on the nutrition scheme."

Maimane, who was speaking in Phoenix, Durban, which is notorious for drug abuse, focused his speech on the harm that drugs cause, especially in the youth.

"At the DA, we understand just how important it is to look after our children. We take the fight against drugs and gangs very seriously in the metros and the province where we govern...You see, it's one thing to talk about cherishing our youth and protecting them from the dangers of drugs and gangs. But talk is cheap. You need to look at actions."

Maimane also boasted about the DA's accomplishments.

"Cape Town's Gang and Drug Task Team is raiding drug dens, busting dealers and fighting to take back the streets from gangsters...In cities like Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay, where we have been in government for almost a year now, many of our new initiatives are already reaping rewards," Maimane said.

Malema, who received an exuberant welcome from thousands of residents in Boipatong, slated the ANC, saying they are the root cause of the issues facing the youth.

Malema's statements were a lot more radical. He said parents continued to vote for the party (the ANC) that is treating them the same way apartheid did.

"The youth must not accept this situation. We must stand up like in 1976 and say it will not be done in our name. We are going to fight this government who are disrespecting the people of Boipatong," Malema said.

Malema urged residents must protest when government doesn't deliver.

"We must take out the rot. We must not be comfortable with corruption. Zuma is stealing our money and taking it to Dubai: the same money that must build houses, schools and provide electricity."

Malema said "our parents" are not doing anything, that they are folding their arms like the elders did in 1976.

He told the youth that they don't need permission from their parents to fight in a revolution.