ANC Youth League president Julius Malema on Saturday said it was not true that he had driven white voters away from the ruling party.
“I never drove them [whites] away. They have never voted for us [ANC],” he said during the KwaZulu-Natal youth league’s provincial congress at the Durban City Hall.
He was commenting for the first time since it was reported that he had cost the ANC minority votes.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe conceded soon after the May 18 local government elections that there were communities which would be “switched off” by ANC leaders’ comments which “appeared racist”.
Asked about comments made by Malema, Mantashe replied: “Comments that are a departure from ANC policy do not do good for the ANC.”
Malema told delegates it was not true that he had driven whites away, saying that they never voted for the ruling party even during former president Nelson Mandela’s tenure.
“They [whites] never voted for Mandela in 1994 and they never voted for Thabo Mbeki,” he said.
He said white South Africans had not voted for Mandela even when he was involved in reconciliation. The ANC had also never won the predominantly white ward where Mandela’s home was situated in Houghton, Johannesburg.
Malema said it was important for people to apply their minds before they agreed with reactionaries.
“The policies are not conducted through headlines,” he said.
Malema said the ANC had also liberated white South Africans from apartheid, adding that they now had access to the beauty of the continent.
“South Africa belongs to both blacks and whites. We freed them [whites] and we will continue protecting them,” he said.
He said coloureds and Indians had worked with black South African in the trenches fighting for freedom.
Malema also said the ANC had managed to get 20 000 new votes from the coloured community.
“The new leadership managed to get 20 000 new votes in one year. We would have managed to get more if they had more time,” Malema said, referring to leaders who took over one year before the elections.
Malema also said there were people who had been funded by big corporations to remove youth league leaders who supported the nationalisation of mines.
Malema is a driving force behind the move to nationalise South African mines.
“They have gone to these people [big business] and said, ‘fund us to remove these people who want to nationalise mines’,” he said.
He said league members needed to be made aware of people who were funded by big businesses because this undermined the struggle.
According to media reports, Gauteng chairperson Lebogang Maile will challenge Malema for the presidency at the congress.
Malema also said there were people who were planning to disrupt the conference in Johannesburg.
“They want to put the interim leadership in during the conference,” he said.
He also issued a warned to those who planned to disrupt the conference, saying iIll discipline would not be tolerated. – Sapa