African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema has sent a threatening SMS to South African Communist Party (SACP) deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin following the former’s embarrassing appearance at the SACP conference, City Press reported on Sunday.
“If you thought you have taught me a lesson, wait until you see what is coming your direction,” Malema reportedly said by SMS to Cronin after he was booed at the SACP’s conference in Polokwane.
City Press reported that several leaders within the ANC and SACP have confirmed the SMS.
Cronin would not confirm the SMS to the paper and would only describe Malema’s language as “rather loose … I ignore that kind of thing”.
“We want to have a constructive relationship, not with individuals but with the ANCYL collective,” said Cronin.
Last month, Cronin and Malema exchanged combative words. In the SACP newsletter, Cronin said that those who called for nationalisation of mines, such as Malema, did not understand the economics of the issue. Malema fired back, accusing Cronin of being a “white messiah”.
Both the ANCYL and the SACP could not be reached for comment.
ANC president Jacob Zuma, speaking at the SACP’s conference on Saturday, addressed the embarrassing event of Thursday where delegates heckled Malema and national executive committee (NEC) member Billy Masetlha, indirectly referring to Malema as “irritating”.
The alliance is home to different people with different characters, who raise issues differently, said Zuma. “At times [people] irritate in meetings. They just have a culture of irritating. The critical thing is how do we handle such comrades? Do you also become an irritant? You can’t.”
Malema is known for his public attacks on several alliance leaders on different issues, particularly when they express opinions different to his. “The public outbursts and acrimonious exchanges are not in the tradition of the alliance, irrespective of where they come from,” said Zuma.
After Malema’s walkout on Thursday, he told journalists he was going to complain to Zuma about his “humiliation” at the hands of communist delegates.
There were fears before Zuma’s speech that he would find it difficult to stand his ground and would probably shy away from the Malema-vs-communists drama, but he confronted it head-on, impressing SACP delegates who agreed with him on the issue of discipline within the alliance.
“If we believe that somebody among ourselves is ill-disciplined, let us deal with the matter. If we don’t deal with it, we allow this sickness to eat the alliance up like a cancer.”