/ 1 April 2008

Allies slam ‘dastardly’ attack on Zuma

African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma’s allies have rallied to his defence in the wake of University of South Africa rector Barney Pityana’s indictment of his character on Monday.

In a blistering assault of its own on Pityana on Tuesday, the Young Communist League (YCL) said it had noted the ”disrespectful and dastardly remarks made by the deplorable” rector.

”This is a clear indication that the vice-chancellor is attacking the ANC president opportunistically to project his defeated political handlers in Polokwane as genuine and true leaders,” it said.

On Monday, Pityana told the Law Society of South Africa’s annual general meeting the country was entering a new era.

”It is a time shrouded in anxiety and uncertainty with the looming presidency of Jacob Zuma and a new assertive leadership of the ANC.

”To many of us, Jacob Zuma, popularly elected by the branch delegates at Polokwane in December 2007, remains a flawed character in his moral conduct; he has been indicted for serious crimes that involve corruption and dishonesty.

”So far he does not encourage confidence in his understanding of policy, appearing as he does in the short-term to be making policy pronouncements on the hoof depending on who he wishes to appease at any one moment,” Pityana said.

He also lavished praise on President Thabo Mbeki, saying he was one of Africa’s best statesmen.

Calling on Pityana to ”desist from these unwarranted insults”, the YCL said it was regrettable that he had a ”personal and political vendetta against the ANC president and he uses it in a malicious and opportunistic manner to settle cheap and factionalist political scores”.

Pityana was not a ”good political leader of note” and his ”contribution to the liberation struggle is politically empty since in exile he was in the business of being a boarding academic and political demagogue tourist”.

”The YCL believes that Pityana is nothing else, but a mere political mercenary seeking cheap political publicity. We urge the gutter vice-chancellor to desist from political gimmicks that insult and undermine the person of ANC president,” the YCL said.

In a more subdued manner, the YCL’s parent body, the South African Communist Party (SACP), said it was ”flabbergasted and often confounded by some of the utterances, including the latest ones by Professor Barney Pityana, on developments within our movement in particular and our country in general”.

The SACP urged Pityana to stop projecting his own ”idiosyncratic anxieties on to the rest of us”.

”We have no such anxieties about Polokwane and the new leadership of the ANC.

”For the SACP Polokwane, the policies adopted there, and the newly elected leadership have given renewed hope to the overwhelming majority of our members, a feeling shared by the majority of the workers and the poor in our country, and indeed by millions of our people.”

While Pityana was entitled to his views, a person of his position needed to be cautious on how he positioned himself in relation to developments within the broad movement, the SACP said.

Earlier, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe described Pityana’s statements as ”spurious” and a reflection of ”intellectual bankruptcy”.

Mantashe said Pityana’s statements were an indication that Pityana was clinging to personalities and failing to view the organisation, the ANC, as a whole.

Pityana also did not understand Zuma, he said. — Sapa