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17 Jun 2006 07:57
Spy bosses, rugby bosses, political bosses, diplomats and former deputy president Jacob Zuma were all on stage at the Absa Stadium in Durban in front of nearly 50Â 000 people for the Youth Day celebrations on Friday.
Zuma’s message was one which stressed the unity of the ruling African National Congress and attacked “analysts” who predicted the downfall of the party.
The media and big business were also criticised by the ANC deputy president as well as by ANC Youth League president Fikile Mbalula.
“We are bombarded by analysts telling us [the ANC] what is wrong and how it should be fixed,” said Zuma.
“Newspapers, especially weekend papers, carry headlines sounding the death knell of the ANC.”
He said the ANC was founded upon unity. “The ANC has never been about individuals.
We should guard the collective leadership of the ANC.”
He urged the youth to dedicate themselves to strengthening the tripartite alliance of the ANC, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist Party (SACP).
Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi raised the issued of who would succeed President Thabo Mbeki.
“Ordinary people from the ANC will decide who will be the next ANC president.
Vavi accused a “small right wing element of sowing rumours” over divisions with in the ANC. He also went to pains that Cosatu had never said that the ANC or President Thabo Mbeki “are leading the country into a dictatorship”.
“We said that if we are not careful then this country will deteriorate into a dictatorship.”
Zuma also urged the youth to take the lead in the fight against HIV/Aids.
“The struggle continues. I advocate prevention, especially having learnt from my own recent error in this regard. I urge you to hear the prevention message and protect yourself.”
Among those attending was Billy Masetlha, the former director-general of the National Intelligence Agency fired in the wake of the e-mail hoax scandal.
Although he did not speak, Mbalula said of him: “Masetlha was one of the comrades in the forefront of the struggle to free us in 1976.”
Mbalula pointed to the empty corporate boxes in the stadium. “We say to business that they have an obligation to create decent jobs for people. They must do away with the casualistion of labour.”
The South African Football Association also attracted the attention of the youth league’s president—for the national football team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup.
“They must be held responsible for Bafana Bafana’s failure. The ANC Youth League will undermine Safa’s leadership if they do not change. They must make it a point that we have a strong national team.”
Earlier South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins briefly paid tribute to the “generation of ‘76” for their role leading to South Africa being readmitted into the international rugby fold and urged those at the stadium to support the Springboks in Saturday’s Test match against Scotland.
Representatives from the Western Sahara’s liberation movement struggling to eject Morocco from the former Spanish colony attended the celebrations.
Police kept a low profile during the day’s proceedings while large numbers of marshalls were deployed to keep control. - Sapa
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