Madikizela-Mandela was speaking at a briefing in Soweto to announce a partnership with former Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand‚ to establish a youth employment initiative.
“We all know all the universities are on fire. Students want assistance in relation to their fees‚” she said
“When we got into government from 1994‚ we realised that the free education we had promised wasn’t going to be easy‚ because we had had a society that was stratified so strangely… We had divided our society into four classes.
“Free education is difficult to attain today because of those problems that start from those times.
“How did we think we were going to get money to fund education and that we are going to have free education in the first place? It’s an impossible promise‚” Madikizela-Mandela said.
She said the ruling party needed to revisit the Freedom Charter..
“We feel very sorry for the students who are in the streets today and it’s towards examinations… It’s a difficult problem… How do you then differentiate between the children who come from the southern suburbs‚ where parents can afford and those who come from the shacks?
“We wish it was possible to have free education right away. I also think the government should have tried to meet the students half-way.
“You cannot say in this current atmosphere‚ the fees will not be increased when the problem started last year and we know the students were not fighting for an increase. They were fighting for free education.”
Madikizela-Mandela said the only solution was for government to meet students half-way and find a way of resolving the issue‚ but not with violence.
She said the same infrastructure the students were destroying would need to be paid for by the same government they want to provide free education.
“The whole cabinet should go back to the drawing board and find a solution that meets students half-way.”
Madikizela-Mandela said an 8% increase was not a solution.
“Government needs to introspect and find out how we have gone wrong in so many issues that affect our country.”
Commenting on the current leadership Madikizela-Mandela said: “We cannot pretend we don’t have problems. We cannot pretend things are not wrong in our country.
“A lot of things are wrong‚ The kind of introspection will need a whole layer of fresh leadership combined with the elders who are still left in the organisation‚ to revisit the Freedom Charter… and go through all the stages of the various presidents and find out where did we go so wrong‚ why do we have so much corruption everywhere?
“One word that is in everybody’s lips is corruption and who has the answer to that? It’s the governing party. You need to get the governing party to go into retreat for a month and find answers about all the wrong we have done… we are all worried about the weakness of the rand. We all don’t want to be junk status.”
Additional reporting: Sydney Morweng, news editor.