ANCYL president Julius Malema has refused to apologise for his controversial "kill for Zuma" remark, and accused the media of distorting his words.
African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema refused to apologise on Thursday for his controversial “kill for Zuma” remark, and accused the media of distorting his words.
“We never meant literally that people should be killed. We never called on anybody to immediately take up arms,” he told reporters in Johannesburg.
Asked whether he would apologise for the statement made at a Bloemfontein rally on the weekend, Malema replied: “Why do you apologise for something you did not mean.”
However, Malema did say that he would never use the word kill in a speech again.
“After this exercise I will never repeat the word ‘kill’. I will find a creative way to say I will do anything to protect comrade [Jacob] Zuma.”
Malema said ANC president Zuma approached him after the speech and asked him to explain his statement, for which the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has since requested an apology.
“The president of the ANC said to me that was a heavy statement and I had to provide some explanation ... the president was shaken by the statement,” he said.
Malema, at the rally, said the youth league was “prepared to die for Zuma. We are prepared to take up arms and kill for Zuma.”
But, he said, media reports on his speech were “blown out of proportion with a clear malicious intent and consequence”.
“We have noticed a distortion, misinterpretation, vulgar insults and defamatory comments which have been hurled against the ANCYL.”
Malema said it was all part of a political agenda to discredit the youth league.
The SAHRC on Wednesday gave Malema 14 days to retract his controversial remark.
If Malema fails to respond, the commission will take the matter further “in line with its constitutional mandate”, said spokesperson Vincent Moaga.
He would not elaborate on what this would entail, and added: “We don’t want to pre-empt that. Let’s wait for him to respond.”
The commission believes that Malema’s statement should be viewed against the backdrop of unacceptable levels of crime and violence in South Africa.
It is unbecoming of one of South Africa’s biggest youth formations to incite its membership to crime and violence.
“We believe that statements like this are counter-productive to mobilising our youth as agents in the fight against crime.”
Recent xenophobic violence has shown that the country’s youth are extremely vulnerable to being coerced into violent and criminal behaviour.
“It is therefore prudent to insist that youth leaders like him align themselves with notions that would inspire our youth to engage in responsible citizenship.”
On Tuesday, Malema told e.tv that his statement that the league was prepared to kill for ANC Zuma was not meant to be taken literally.
Moaga dismissed this explanation, saying that Malema is unrepentant and has made statements contradicting this stance in other interviews.
In its letter to him, the commission warned that Malema’s statement was a direct threat to the values enshrined in the Constitution.—Sapa