Malema: We need leaders like Castro, Mugabe

Julius Malema, the ANC Youth League president, did not mention President Jacob Zuma by name when he addressed a youth league regional conference in Limpopo at the weekend, but he was scathing about the ANC and the government’s position on Libya.

Footage of Malema’s address reveals that he expressed strong views on what the ANC’s attitude should be towards Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. “We need fearless leaders.
We cannot achieve much if we have the leadership that is scared of the Queen, who are scared of the West. We need leaders like Fidel Castro, leaders like [Zimbabwean President Robert] Mugabe who can stand against the West.

“Gaddafi did not open fire against civilians. He opened fire against the rebels and we have seen rebels bombing buildings of government and opening fire against civilians. When Gaddafi replied fire with fire they said he is attacking his own people, but there is no peaceful protest in Libya.

“South Africa, the country that has just hosted a world youth festival against imperialism, goes and votes with imperialist UN [United Nations] and we must clap hands, we must smile, we must continue to say ‘this is the leadership’—the leadership which votes for the African people to be killed by the West — Is that what we voted for? It cannot be the ANC that votes for the killing of people.”

An inaccurate report by Independent Newspapers that Malema lambasted Zuma for poor leadership in his speech revived calls for a media tribunal and opened a new battle front between the youth league and its parent body, which has reminded the youth league that it is still part of the ANC. On Thursday The Star newspaper was forced to apologise for publishing a story that said Malema had blasted Zuma in his weekend address.

Apology not enough
In a statement, the ANC said the apology was not enough because it appeared that the newspaper wanted to force it to discipline Malema and to create an impression of an organisation at war with itself.

“We also believe that any intervention or sanction imposed by the Press Council and the press ombudsman will not undo the damage caused by yesterday’s publication of the story in The Star.

“It is in this vain [sic] that South Africa should look at other means of stopping these types of non-objective reporting.” For the past year the ANC has been agitating for the establishment of a tribunal to deal with biased reporting. The party is expected to finalise its position on the matter at its national conference next year in Mangaung.

Despite its defence of Malema, the ANC cautioned the youth league against criticising the South African government’s signing of the UN resolution supporting a no-fly zone in Libya.

In its statement, the ANC said it would study comments attributed to Malema on Libya and the youth league’s public pronouncements, but added that instead they should have been raised in the national executive committee and national working committee “of which Malema and the youth league enjoy full participatory status”.

The ANC also reminded the youth league that its policies, including those on international relations, were guided by its parent body.

Stefaans Brümmer

Stefaans Brümmer

Stefaans is an old hand at investigations. A politics and journalism graduate, he cut his reporting teeth at the Cape Argus in the tumultuous early 1990s; then joined the Mail & Guardian as democracy dawned in April 1994. For the next 16 years (a late-1990s diversion into television and freelancing apart), the M&G was his journalistic home and launch pad for award-winning investigations focusing on the nexus between politics and money. Stefaans has co-authored exposés including Oilgate, the Selebi affair, Chancellor House and significant breaks in the arms deal scandal. Stefaans and Sam Sole co-founded amaBhungane in 2010. He divides his time between the demands of media bureaucracy (which he detests), coaching members of the amaBhungane team, and his first love, digging for dung.
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