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Time's a wastin', Zuma tells youth

President Jacob Zuma says the youth must not wait to improve their lives.

President Jacob Zuma laying a wreath at June 16 victim Hector Pieterson Musium in Soweto. Picture: GCIS.

SOWETO - President Jacob Zuma says South Africa's youth can't afford to wait to start changing the country and their lives.

Zuma visited several parts of Soweto on Friday ahead of Youth Day which will be commemorated on Sunday.

Zuma praised those who took a stand in 1976, saying they rose up to apartheid and met bullets with their hands. The President also spoke about the importance of education and of taking part in elections.

He laid a wreath at the Hector Pieterson memorial, visited residents of Orlando West before delivering speeches at the University of Johannesburg's Soweto campus and the Vaal University of Technology.

Speaking outside the Hector Pieterson Museum, Zuma drove home the message about the importance of education.

He said if he had his own way education would be free and failing to send children to school would be a criminal offence.

Zuma summoned the events of 1976 to inspire today's youth.

"Today the main challenge is to make South Africa better and to change the quality of lives."

The President said problems in education stretch far further than 1994. But he added a solid foundation was being built and the system would continue to improve.

Meanwhile, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, who accompanied Zuma, said South Africa's youth should take time this weekend to reflect on those who came before them.

Mokonyane warned the youth to stay away from drugs.

She also had a special message for Nelson Mandela...

"We hope that the divine spirit will prevail but we will forever appreciate that Madiba was part of us in the African National Congress and that's why we will try to emulate the character of Madiba," said Mokonyane.

Mandela looks set to spend the weekend in hospital after being admitted for a recurring lung infection last Saturday.