KZN African National Congress (ANC) provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala addresses a media conference at the ANC headquarters in Durban on Tuesday.  Picture: RAJESH JANTILAL
Sihle Zikalala. Picture: RAJESH JANTILAL

CHILDREN should be taught from a young age to be against racism, African National Congress (ANC) KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Sihle Zikalala said on Sunday.

"South Africans should be taught at young stage to despise racism. To achieve this, the department of education should ensure that life orientation currently taught in our schools has extensive content that deals with social cohesion and racism," Mr Zikalala said.

"The department of education must engage with private schools to adopt life orientation, private schools cannot be left as platforms to sustain divisive tendencies of the past," he added.

Mr Zikalala was speaking at the KwaZulu-Natal celebrations of the ruling party’s 104 anniversary held in Greytown on Sunday. He called on churches, traditional leaders, business and labour to also play a meaningful role in promoting nonracialism.

"As we deal with racism, we should always bear in mind that our own Freedom Charter decreed that ‘SA belongs to all who live in it, black and white’. A nonracial SA means a SA in which all the artificial obstructions and assumptions that keep people apart are removed," he said.

In recent weeks, the country has seen several high profile people engaged in racial spats, particularly on social networking sites.

This includes TV personality Jo-Ann Strauss, eNCA news anchor Andrew Barnes, economist Chris Hart and radio personality Gareth Cliff.

The debate on racism started earlier in the year after KwaZulu-Natal estate agent Penny Sparrow took to Facebook to describe black beachgoers as "monkeys" in an apparent reaction to litter left behind after new year celebrations in Margate.

There was a mass reaction to her statement across social media platforms, as well as from political quarters.

The estate agent later deleted her post and apologised, saying she did "not mean it personally".