/ 3 April 2008

Mbalula tells Pityana to wake up and smell the coffee

Outgoing African National Congress Youth League president Fikile Mbalula on Thursday criticised University of South Africa rector Barney Pityana for making ”a clown of himself” regarding his comments about ANC president Jacob Zuma.

Mbalula said the league condemned the continued slander by self-imposed political commentators and analysts on the integrity of the ANC president and for challenging his bona fides.

”Yet again, some Professor Pityana has made a clown of himself by his overzealous confusion and comical postulations about the ANC president and the ANC leadership,” said Mbalula while delivering the league’s political report at its national congress in Bloemfontein.

Hundreds of ANCYL delegates are attending the conference at the University of the Free State.

Pityana had said Zuma had failed to inspire confidence during his first few months at the party’s helm.

”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,” Pityana said.

Mbalula said Pityana had talked about respect for the Constitution and the rule of law but found it fashionable to disrespect the democratically elected ANC leadership and its president.

He said Pityana had found Zuma guilty before any court of law had pronounced on the matter.

”As a professor, we can’t educate him about the cardinal principle of innocent until proven guilty. Maybe he knows something that we don’t know,” Mbalula said to loud applause.

Mbalula accused Pityana of being a typical ivory-tower academic and an ignorant reactionary.

”The train has long passed the station and it’s time he [Pityana] wakes up from the slumber-land and smells the coffee.

”What constituency does he really represent?”, Mbalula asked.

The ANC earlier also come out in defence of Zuma.

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

Mbalula told delegates the ANCYL would always be a critical tool for South Africa’s youth in pursuit of a better life.

”The ANCYL is a mass political youth organisation of the ANC that reinforces the programmes of the ANC in society, and reproduces the ideas of the ANC among the youth”.

He said the autonomy of the league would always provide organisational vibrancy and youthful political debate within the movement.

”Though we relate with the ANC as an autonomous organisation we form an integral part of the ANC in the formulation and development of the policies and programmes of the ANC.”

The conference runs until Saturday. – Sapa