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.
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.
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.
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