/ 11 December 2009

Young communists flay ‘drama queen’ Malema

The Young Communist League will ”meet fire with fire” in defence of its mother body, the South African Communist Party (SACP), going head-to-head with ‘drama queen” Julius Malema, the ANC Youth league president.

National secretary of the YCL, Buti Manamela, told delegates at the SACP’s second special national congress in Polokwane that those who insult the SACP and its leaders would be treated accordingly.

‘Those who continue to call our leaders racist should never have illusions of receiving red-carpet treatment in this congress,” he said.

In a public spat about the ANCYL’s call for the nationalisation of mines, Malema said SACP deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin was expressing sentiments that were similar to the ones previously expressed by ‘white supremacists”.

Malema walked out of the congress on Thursday after a spat with SACP chairperson Gwede Mantashe. Malema was unhappy that he had not been given a chance to address delegates after they heckled him and national executive committee member Billy Masetlha.

After his walkout Malema told journalists that SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande — who is also minister of higher education — should remember that he deals with young people in his portfolio, the majority of them ANCYL members. ‘We organise at universities. If we were to respond that way to him, he won’t like it,” said Malema, referring to the booing he was subjected to.

On Friday Manamela said the YCL, also known as ‘Ufasimba”, was not shaken by Malema’s threats. ”Those who make the threats should know that the YCL is also there in every campus. We are prepared to meet fire with fire”.

While he regretted that some ANC leaders were booed by delegates, he did not hold back on his criticism of Malema.

”We are militant, we are radical, but we also subscribe to logic and sense. We are brave about our views, and we can stand firm on those views”.

Manamela said Malema’s tantrum on Thursday were driven by the fact that he was ”running away from engaging in a constructive debate with communists. Any attempt to play drama queen and disrupt this congress will not be appreciated”.

Manamela also took a swipe at a group of current and former SACP members who are organising a conference of the democratic left, scheduled for March next year, singling out his former deputy in the YCL, Mazibuko Jara. ”We are shocked why the SACP is still keeping [him] as a member. [The organisers of the democratic left] are travelling the breadth and width of the country trying to pull together, with no support, this stokvel of theirs. We hang our heads in shame that he is from our ranks”.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) delivered a message of support through its general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi. He encouraged the SACP to proudly ‘hoist the red flag” and declare war against anti-communists.

‘Leaving the ANC because we are upset by some problematic pronouncements from a minority is a betrayal of [the] masses that voted for fundamental transformation of society”.

Vavi also spoke on the expected discussion and the likely constitutional amendment to allow Nzimande to continue occupying the full-time position of the party’s general secretary as well as his Cabinet position. ‘We do not struggle so that others can be our rulers. This changed political environment is as a result our efforts. We are therefore not an opposition grouping or an NGO that is not interested in state power”.

He also responded to some ANC leaders who raised concerns about a communist takeover, saying the SACP cannot afford the risk of ”subordinating the party to the ANC”, adding that the changed political environment, now more friendlier to the SACP and Cosatu as the ANC’s alliance partners, was as a result of the efforts of the working class.

President Jacob Zuma is scheduled to address the congress on Saturday afternoon in his capacity as ANC president.