People have a right to express themselves, which is guaranteed in the Constitution, but nobody in the country should tolerate or condone the use of violence, Zuma said at a Sunday rally in Durban, eastern South Africa, marking the National Day of Prayer.
South Africans should speak out and condemn violence and also condemn leaders and organizations that preach and promote violence.
“We must not tolerate any party or individuals who seek to take us back to the apartheid period of violence, anarchy and pain. South Africa is a land of peace. South Africa is a land of tolerance,” Zuma said.
He did not give the names of those who promote violence, but he was believed to refer to Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) leader Julius Malema, who vows to remove the South African government “through the barrel of a gun”.
In an interview with Al Jazeera last month, Malema said the opposition “will run out of patience very soon and we will remove this government through the barrel of a gun” if the ANC continues to respond violently to peaceful protests.
There can never be any justification for violence and hooliganism, Zuma said.
“Nobody must turn our youth into instruments of destruction, and use them to destroy property including facilities that are aimed at building their future, to further their political ends,” Zuma said.
Referring to the burning down of dozens of schools during recent violent protests over municipal demarcation in Vuwavi, Limpopo Province, Zuma said the government is concerned about the destruction of infrastructure during protests.
The government has built 795 schools since 2009, at a cost of 23 billion rand (about 1.5 billion US dollars), according to Zuma.
“It causes us and all freedom loving South Africans a lot of pain and disappointment to see such important infrastructure being destroyed,” Zuma said.
Zuma also appealed for peace during the election campaigns and also during the local government elections, scheduled for August 3 this year.
Parties must abide by the Independent Electoral Commission Code of Conduct, he said.
“We must unite our people against violence, thuggery and hooliganism and ensure that we maintain our track record of peaceful, free and fair elections in our country,” said Zuma.
South Africans, he said, should unite and ensure that the campaign and election periods are hassle free and peaceful.
There must be tolerance, peaceful co-existence among political parties and free political activity, he said. Enditem