ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema threw caution to the wind in his opening address at the league’s annual lekgotla, being held in Centurion this weekend, and took a series of digs at President Jacob Zuma, calling for better leadership within the ruling party.
Without referring specifically to Zuma, Malema said: “We need more decisive and sophisticated leadership to understand the current phase of our struggle.”
He called on the ANC to “choose a leader who is capable of showing the convergence between personal interests, material status and collective interest”.
Casting an eye forward to the ANC’s conference in Mangaung in December, Malema said that the leadership of the ANC should be discussed without fear or favour.
Malema said that leadership discussions and succession should never be taboo in the ANC and that suppressing differences within the party should not be allowed. He also argued that party members should be allowed to lobby openly for positions.
The league has been vocal in its support for Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and the Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula — himself a former youth league president — to replace Zuma and secretary general Gwede Mantashe in Mangaung in December.
When Mantashe arrived at the lekgotla youth league members, led by suspended youth league treasurer general Pule Mabe, gestured in the way that football fans do when calling for a replacement and sang that they would vote for Mbalula in 2012. When Mantashe extended a hand to Malema, he accepted reluctantly.
Before the event began the youth league members sang “Now look Tambo, they are selling us out. We’re going to give them a short time and then they have to leave.” They also made shower gestures and sang “Malema, please come to our rescue because ‘Shower Man’ is troubling us.”
This is a reference to Zuma, who once claimed that he’d protected himself from contracting HIV by taking a shower after sex with an HIV positive woman, and has ever since been depicted by cartoonist Zapiro with a shower attached to his head.
Disciplinary hearing continues
Malema and his Youth League deputies are still engaged in a disciplinary hearing. They were found guilty of sowing divisions within the ANC and bringing the party into disrepute. Malema received a five-year suspension from the party’s National Disciplinary Committee but has been given leave to argue in mitigation of his sentence.
The M&G has learned that the league’s national executive committee plans to announce on Monday that no succession debate will take place in a post-Malema era and that it’s likely Malema’s deputy, Ronald Lamola, would continue to run the youth league’s affairs with other national office bearers until its next congress.
Although he began his address — dubbed “The State of the Youth League” — by saying that it could well be his farewell speech, he went on to say that “no amount of intimidation and suppression will successfully suppress the voice of the youth”.
“Those who have tried before, failed,” he said.
In some ways, Malema’s speech mirrored Zuma’s ANC centenary address. He narrated a history of the league and talked about its brightest moments and most revered leaders. He listed the leaders who had given the Youth League “space to speak” — he included Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, but pointedly left out Zuma.
He continued to proclaim his innocence of any wrongdoing, saying the hearings were politically motivated and that he had simply articulated the will of the youth league. “The basic lesson we have learned is that of democratic centralisation … we are guilty of thinking,” he said.
Not drinking from the same cup
In a dig at ANC spokesperson ANC Jackson Mthembu, Malema said there was no consistency in the ANC regarding discipline — if there was, he said, those who were found guilty of driving drunk would also have been disciplined.
Malema also claimed that only the league had the power to remove him from his position. “It is only the youth of the ANC who can take away the mandate and the responsibility given to us,” he said.
“If the youth league of the ANC says we should step down and resign as leaders as the ANC, we shall step down and resign … because it is you who said we should lead.”
Economic freedom in our lifetime
The youth league has dubbed 2012 the “year of economic dreedom in our lifetime”, and on Friday Malema repeated his calls for a concrete programme to nationalise mines, banks and monopoly industries.
This came just hours after Zuma, speaking to business leaders, reiterated that nationalisation is not ANC or government policy but rather the view of “one person”.
In his address, Malema said that the struggle for economic freedom will not be left to “some older people” who seem to believe that the massive inequality in the country cannot be changed.
Malema rejected the ANC’s national general council (NGC) research report on nationalisation, saying it was lead by researchers who had preconceived ideas about the issue. He said Pallo Jordan had undermined the integrity of the research process as he had in the past made it clear that he did not support the policy.
“We knew he was conflicted,” said Malema. “Comrade Pallo Jordan and the research team visited 18 countries and the only conclusion they could come with are the opinions held by comrade Pallo Jordan in 2010.”
Malema said the preliminary report on the nationalisation of the mines defies the Freedom Charter. “The Freedom Charter didn’t say that mines should pay 50% tax per year but that ownership of mineral wealth should be transferred to the people as a whole,” he said.
“Economic freedom in our lifetime is fundamental to continued support for the ANC,” said Malema. “This generation will inherit an ANC that cannot blame the past for massive inequalities,” he said.
For more news and multimedia on ANC Youth League president Julius Malema view our special report.