Zuma condemns torching of schools in Vuwani

President Jacob Zuma has condemned the destruction in the strongest terms.

FILE: The Vhudzani Secondary School is one the schools which have been touched by the Vuwani community. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma says the entire nation is shocked by the burning of 17 schools and other public facilities in Vuwani, Limpopo.

He's condemned the destruction in the strongest terms.

Zuma was speaking in the National Assembly, replying to yesterday's debate on the Presidency's budget vote.

Most of the opposition benches were empty of Members of Parliament (MPs), after eight parties decided to boycott today's proceedings.

In a statement earlier, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane said they could not in good conscience legitimise an empty speech of a discredited and illegitimate president.

The president said there was no grievance that could justify the destruction of property, especially schools, which are meant to help the next generation defeat poverty, inequality and unemployment.

"The entire nation is in shock over this occurrence."

Zuma says he's ordered law enforcement agencies to find the perpetrators.

"Nobody should be allowed to jeopardise and destroy the future of our children and our country."

He made no comment about the absence of eight opposition parties in the house during his reply today, nor did he respond to opposition criticism levelled against him yesterday.

He told the house he was only prepared to respond to the substance of the Presidency's budget vote.