/ 18 September 2008

Politicians are easy to replace, says Malema

There is no need to believe there will be a crisis in the country’s administration should President Thabo Mbeki step down, African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema said on Thursday

”Politicians are the easiest to replace … we will move forward and they will carry on with the programmes which are there,” said Malema.

”The administration will still be there,” he said on Mbeki’s future and the National Prosecuting Authority’s decision to appeal against the Pietermaritzburg High Court judgement that set aside charges against ANC president Jacob Zuma.

Malema said: ”If you resign, Terror [Mosiuoa] Lekota [will take over], then General Siphiwe Nyanda will take over [as defence minister]. You don’t advertise, you don’t call for interviews, it’s not a long process. You don’t want to create a crisis.”

He was speaking at a Progressive Youth Alliance press conference hosted by the Congress of South African Students, the South African Students’ Congress, the Young Communist League (YCL) and the ANCYL.

At the conference, YCL national secretary Buti Manamela claimed that Mbeki would be out of office on Monday. ”Come Monday, they are going to pronounce that President Thabo Mbeki is going to be released because he is no longer capable of leading the country,” he said.

After Judge Chris Nicholson’s ruling on Friday, the ANCYL said it would call on the ANC’s decision-making national executive committee (NEC) to remove Mbeki. However, the league has been chastised for pre-empting any decisions the NEC may make at its meeting this weekend.

Malema said the league had a right to lobby openly NEC members for Mbeki’s removal instead of the ”underground” lobbying that took place at the ANC’s elective conference in Polokwane in December — which saw Mbeki’s bid for a third term as party president outvoted in favour of Zuma.

”We are confident we will win, because we spoke to the majority of the NEC. And they agree with us,” he said.

He joked that he would even have lobbied Mbeki if he was an NEC member. ”That you can agree, Mbeki, that you must go.”

He said the NPA had made a ”stupid mistake” to appeal against the Zuma judgement, saying it, instead of political pressure, could have been used to close the case. ”It is a racist agenda that continues to carry the aspirations and interests of the apartheid regime,” he said.

In line with this theme, Manamela said that the Scorpions’ ”terrible twins” — the prosecutors handling Zuma’s case, Anton Steynberg and Billy Downer — should stop painting the ANC leadership as ”corrupt and barbaric”.

Malema added that it was not just the ANCYL that was angry, but claimed that the whole ANC membership felt a special NEC meeting should have been convened after the judgement and a decision made ”there and then”.

”We don’t want this man, he has become a dictator. Once you manipulate the Constitution for your own personal use, you become a dictator,” he said, adding that the league intended calling for Mbeki to be disciplined and for him to explain why his ANC membership card should not be taken away.

They would also include Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Brigitte Mabandla; her predecessor, Penuell Maduna; and former NPA head Bulelani Ngcuka, if he is still a ANC member, as they were mentioned in the Zuma judgement for having a too close relationship with Mbeki, given constitutional guarantees of the independence of the NPA.

Referring to Zuma’s comments over the weekend about a ”dead snake”, which Malema said may or may not have referred to Mbeki, he added: ”Fine, we are leaving this dead snake, but we must bury it, it is dead now … we are no longer beating it and we are burying this snake this weekend.”

The Cabinet announced earlier on Thursday that it was taking legal advice on Nicholson’s judgement because it did not accept the suggestion that either the president or the executive had interfered with the prosecuting decisions of the NPA. — Sapa