State institutions are being used to intimidate people wanting to join the ANC Youth League’s economic freedom marches, league president Julius Malema said on Monday.
“Innocent people are being threatened. Since when do state institutions intimidate people who have different political views?” Malema asked at a media briefing in Johannesburg.
He said bus companies had to pull out of the march because they were being told their contracts would be terminated if they transported protesters.
“Because of the lack of buses we have sourced taxis. These drivers don’t need tenders, they rely on people on the street.”
He said members would find different ways of reaching the march.
“They will find trucks, bakkies and any form of transport. People are more than ready to come.”
He said members had been visited at their homes and “intimidated by unknown people”.
“They [members] now feel that with the intimidation they have more reason to come out and march.”
Malema said the youth league had met African National Congress leaders to discuss the march.
“Some people who think they are more ANC than the ANC leadership are saying we are marching to undermine the ANC,” Malema said.
“The leadership doesn’t see it like that and they say that nothing is wrong with the march, as long as it is successful and peaceful.”
ANC on board
Malema said the ANC leadership had accepted the youth league’s explanations. The league expected 5 000 people to participate in the march, he said. There would also be 1 000 youth league marshals, 500 police and private security company members to ensure the march was peaceful.
“The ANC leadership told us to look out for agent provocateurs. We might be infiltrated by people with ill intentions,” Malema said. He claimed the youth league had been told to pay the Johannesburg and Pretoria municipalities R1-million each to receive permission to march.
“We will not pay to march. We have provided all the applications. If there is an uprising, people don’t apply for permission.
“Our demands are clear. We have no aim of bringing down the government. [This] is a popular government … We are rising to raise our concerns with them.”
The “economic freedom youth mass action” is scheduled to take place on Thursday and Friday. Marchers will go from Beyers Naude Square to the Chamber of Mines in Johannesburg, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in Sandton and Union Buildings in Pretoria.
Our way, not the highway
Malema said they had intended to march along the M1 highway, but would now use alternative routes to prevent traffic delays.
“The route doesn’t matter, Pretoria does. Anything that will get us there is okay,” he said.
Malema said the league was marching to demand the appropriation of land without compensation.
“This is our grandfather’s land, taken by force. We want that land back. We constitute 90% of the country and the ownership [of land] should reflect that.”
Malema spent the weekend travelling to townships across the Gauteng to drum up support for the march. He visited Thembelihle, Diepsloot, Ivory Park, the Methodist Church in Heidelberg and Bantu Bonke township in Vereeniging.
“In Alex, the people stay like pigs. In Diepsloot the people stay like pigs. We want that land. Cowards are scared to speak of this issue.”
Never mnd ‘reputation’
Malema said marching to the JSE would not affect foreign investment in the country.
“People worry about reputation. Ask what the march in Wall Street is doing to the reputation of people there?” he asked, referring to protests in New York.
“This is an international problem. Only ignorant investors won’t know that.”
Malema said the league would not discuss the ANC’s succession debate during the march, but was preparing a document that would define the “ideal” ANC leader.
“We will share this document with the structures. We need to find the right person to lead the ANC beyond its 100 years,” he said.
Misquoted on the succession
Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola reportedly said in Kimberley, Northern Cape on Saturday that the league was going to replace President Jacob Zuma with Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe. Lamola said on Monday he was “grossly misquoted”.
“What I said was that deputy presidents always take over from the presidents … one day with this history Kgalema will become president,” he said.
“It is inevitable, but we did not say when this will happen.”
The Congress of South African Trade Unions said it would support the march, but condemned Lamola’s remarks.
South African Municipal Workers’ Union spokesperson Tahir Sema said the union would stand by the march.
“We will be waiting on the outcome of the bilateral meeting between … Cosatu and the youth league, which would determine whether we would be supporting the march on the streets or not,” he said.
The National Youth Development Agency said in a statement it would support the marches.
“We invite all the youths to participate, because the youth unemployment rate is very high in this country.” — Sapa