The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) wants the government to establish a state-owned bank that will invest in the “dreams and aspirations” of the youth.
“Part of the beef we had with Treasury was the establishment of a state bank. A state bank that would invest in our business ideas, not on the basis of our wealth and what we own,” said ANCYL secretary general, Njabulo Nzuza.
“When young, educated and innovative people are looking for loans, the first thing they are asked by Absa is ‘do you have your own contribution?’ or ‘do you have security in the form of a house?’.”
Nzuza was speaking at a seminar on free education at the Durban University of Technology’s ML Sultan campus on Thursday night, where former African Union Commission chairperson and ANC national executive committee member Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was the keynote speaker.
“We want a state-owned bank that will invest in our dreams and aspirations,” Nzuza told the overflowing auditorium to great cheers.
Free education could not be separated from radical economic transformation, he said.
“Education allows us to be innovative, and when we are innovative we are able to come up ideas that will assist the growth of our economy,” said the ANCYL secretary general.
“When a person is working and employed, they then pay taxes. That is why you can’t say that when you put money into free education you are literally throwing money away.”
Nzuza said that free education was essential for the poor, but those who could afford to pay had to do so.
“Corporates are contributing almost half of what personal income tax contributors are contributing, which means personal income tax is what is driving government, instead of taxing corporates,” said Nzuza.
“Therefore we should not be ashamed that we should tax corporates more to fund free education. And they can’t scare us by saying ‘you will scare off those who want to come and invest in South Africa’, because these are the very same people who have been consistently looting our economy.
“Our biggest concern as the ANCYL is the six million who are sitting stale in townships because they can’t afford to pay for education. An uneducated nation won’t grow the economy.”
Echoing President Jacob Zuma, Nzuza declared: “Our land is our wealth”.
Nzuza said “people” want benefits from democracy.
He said the youth had to learn to differentiate between militancy and anarchy. The ANCYL was militant, not anarchic, which was why it did not advocate burning of libraries and other destruction of property during marches for free education.
“When you burn a library, you are setting us back because there are six million other [potential students] waiting to use that library,” the ANCYL secretary general said.