“Of all the wrongs of apartheid, its greatest sin was surely to deny black children a proper education,” Maimane said yesterday while speaking during the 40th anniversary commemorations at the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Orlando West, Soweto.
He said schools today were “dysfunctional” and this needed to change.
Recalling that euphoric 1994 moment when democracy was ushered in, Maimane said: “This is a government that was meant to deliver the dream of 1994 to millions of young South Africans, but instead got sucked into the battle for power and money.
“Corrupt governments cannot deliver to the people. Corrupt governments can only think of themselves.”
He said today’s youth had been “let down” by the government which has “sabotaged this generation that we still naively call ‘born frees’”.
He said youth unemployment was “the single biggest threat to our country’s future”.
The latest unemployment statistics show that 8.9 million South Africans were without jobs, and two thirds were youth.
However, President Jacob Zuma said the youth’s economic woes was the skuld of apartheid.
“By denying the majority of the population quality education, the apartheid regime disadvantaged the country and the South African economy immensely,” he told a crowd of supporters at a Youth Day celebration held at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
He said education currently got the biggest chunk of the national budget, as government is building school and libraries.
“A least 80 percent of our public schools are now no-fee schools and nine million children are exempted from paying school fees,” he said.