Gauteng ANC rips into youth league over Malema riots

The African National Congress in Gauteng has laid the blame for last week’s violent protests squarely at the door of the ANC Youth League and called for action “without fear or favour”.

The provincial grouping on Wednesday called for decisive action against those responsible.

During his disciplinary hearing, Julius Malema’s supporters ran riot outside at Luthuli House. But as soon as he began speaking to them afterwards, the young lions became as meek as lambs.
“The ANC members who commit these acts undermine party processes and seeing as though it was a national decision to do so, the youth league must take responsibility,” Gauteng ANC secretary David Makhura told a press briefing in Johannesburg.

Makhura’s remarks come a week after violent clashes between supporters of league president Julius Malema and the South African Police Services (SAPS) on the first day of the controversial youth leader’s internal ANC disciplinary committee meeting in Johannesburg.

During the fracas, about 1 000 supporters attempted to break through police barricades around Luthuli House in Sauer Street.

After being pushed back, supporters then pelted police with stones and glass bottles. Journalists were caught in the crossfire.

ANC flags and T-shirts bearing the face of President Jacob Zuma were set on fire during the skirmish.

Order was only properly achieved later in the day when Malema came out from his hearing to address supporters, who immediately quietened down and heeded his call for calm.

But it appeared this was too little too late.

“This corrosive practice [of resorting to violent protests to challenge decisions] must be dealt with without fear or favour—regardless of who is involved,” Makhura said.

Makhura maintained the Gauteng ANC had done everything in its power to prevent the riotous behaviour.

“That violence and anarchy could have resulted in the police and ANC security taking drastic action—someone could have been killed.
If it were a Gauteng ANC Youth League decision to commit these acts, we would have dealt with it and done our best to prevent them from happening,” he said.

Makhura added the Gauteng ANC would be working with the province’s youth league structures in putting together a report on the riots that will help to bring those responsible to book.

The league has previously refused to take responsibility for the street violence last week, even though its Limpopo provincial office confirmed it had sent busloads of Malema supporters to Johannesburg.

On Wednesday, the youth league declined to comment on the Gauteng ANC’s statements.

Backs to the wall
The stern position adopted by the ANC in Gauteng is but the latest sign that support for Malema is diminishing and that party officials may be growing weary of the youth leader’s actions.

On Monday it was announced that the party’s national disciplinary committee would be moving Malema’s hearing to an undisclosed location after originally backtracking on a previous announcement to do so.

It is understood the original bid to move to another venue was opposed by Malema’s legal representatives at the hearing.

Malema and the senior leadership of the youth league are facing various charges including sowing divisions within the ANC.

The charges relate to comments made by Malema and the youth league about bringing about regime change in Botswana and allegedly barging in on a meeting of senior ANC leadership.

Malema faces further charges for allegedly labelling white people criminals during campaigning ahead of local government elections as well as drawing unfavourable comparisons between Zuma’s leadership and that of former president Thabo Mbeki.

The youth body have dismissed the disciplinary hearing against its leaders as a conspiracy to discredit their calls for drastic changes to the South African economy—including nationalisation.

For more news and multimedia on ANC Youth League president Julius Malema click here.

Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer is the Mail & Guardian's jack of all trades news reporter that chases down stories ranging from politics and sports to big business and social justice. Armed with an iPad, SLR camera, camcorder and dictaphone, he aims to fight ignorance and pessimism through written words, photographs and videos. He believes South Africa could be the greatest country in the world if only her citizens would give her a chance to flourish instead of dwell on the negativity. When he's not begging his sub-editors for an extra twenty minutes after deadline, he's also known to dabble in the occasional poignant column that will leave you mulling around in the depths of your psyche. The quintessential workaholic, you can also catch him doing sports on the weekday breakfast show on SAfm and presenting the SAfm Sports Special over the weekend. Read more from Nickolaus Bauer

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