The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) does not want President Jacob Zuma’s support in its bid for nationalisation — it wants the support of the masses, its leader, Julius Malema, said on Thursday.
“We don’t care who says what. Nationalisation will become the policy of the ANC,” he said during a memorial lecture at the University of the Witwatersrand, commemorating former president Nelson Mandela’s release from prison 20 years ago.
“We don’t want Zuma’s or [Deputy Police Minister Fikile] Mbalula’s support … we want the support of the masses. If the masses say you are correct, we will march on,” Malema said.
On Tuesday, during debate on his State of the Nation address in Parliament, Zuma told opposition parties nationalisation of mines was not government policy.
Malema, however, was determined to influence ANC branches to make nationalisation party policy, which would then filter into the government.
He was addressing a packed hall where he was received with thunderous applause and enthusiastic song and dance. Ahead of Malema’s address, his audience watched a video clip of an interview with Nelson Mandela, filmed shortly after his release from prison.
In the interview, Mandela said nationalisation was part of the country’s history and he did not understand how privatisation was being justified. It would benefit only those with the resources to buy into those industries, he said. Mandela said white people decided the only way to control the country’s black population was to privatise.
In his speech, Malema described the current ANC leadership as “sweethearts”.
“Today they want to tell us they are the best thinkers and they can interpret the freedom charter better than Nelson Mandela.”
He said the struggle for today’s youth was for “economic emancipation”, to “take command of the economy from the hands of white males”.
“We must say here today, following the clip we played, in our lifetime we demand economic freedom.”
‘We must never compare De Klerk to Mandela’
He again attacked former president FW De Klerk.
“We must never compare De Klerk to Nelson Mandela. De Klerk must be compared with [Inkatha Freedom Party leader] Mangosuthu Buthelezi; they served the same master.”
He extended his venom to Buthelezi and related how the IFP was funded by security forces. While the party leader was “forgiven”, his deeds were “not forgotten”.
Joining Malema on stage was ANC national executive committee member Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who remarked that Malema was “clever” to use archival information to back up his bid to nationalise mines.
“You are very clever my grandson Julius … you went to collect archival matter on nationalisation of the mines. I wonder where you got it.”
Madikizela-Mandela responded to newspaper reports on her absence at Victor Verster prison in Cape Town last week to commemorate her ex-husband’s release.
“My family and I were not invited.”
Earlier, Malema described Madikizela-Mandela as “populist”, praising her contribution to the struggle at length.
“You can call her what you want, if she is a populist, we will support a populist,” he said.
She responded by saying that if a populist was someone who “exploited” the ignorant to “hold on to power” and sustain a “luxury lifestyle and what we now call bling”, she was not one.
“I seek none of that.”
Madikizela-Mandela said it was important to remember all the facets of Mandela and the leader he was.
“It is not enough to celebrate and quote him, we must walk in his shoes and complete the long walk.”
She referred to Mandela’s statement while in the dock during the Rivonia treason trial. He did not say he would die for an individual, but rather for an ideal. During a youth rally ahead of Zuma’s appointment as president and before corruption charges against him were withdrawn, Malema said the league was “prepared to die for Zuma”.
Madikizela-Mandela expressed regret about the persistent inequalities in South Africa, saying large sectors of society still lacked the resources to live dignified lives. — Sapa