The ANC’s top six leadership met in a dramatic show of unity in an unexpectedly convened press conference on Tuesday afternoon, to lambaste Julius Malema and the ANC Youth League for sowing division in the ruling party with recent statements.
The ANC’s top officials are one on matters of discipline within the organisation, secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday.
“We remain loyal to all decisions taken,” Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg.
“National officials are not at odds with each other.”
Mantashe said the ANC leadership was concerned about the recent “alien behaviour” within the party.
“The assertion made by Julius Malema that new ideas were suppressed is not only disingenuous, but also a deliberate falsehood,” Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg.
He said it was unfortunate that the youth league had chosen the ANC’s centenary year to call the party undemocratic and to try sow division within the organisation.
Mantashe said these statements would be investigated. He was reading from a statement on behalf of the ANC’s top six officials.
He said the top officials had called a press briefing because of incidents which “caused confusion” within the ANC and the public.
He was joined by ANC president Jacob Zuma, his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe, treasurer Mathews Phosa, national chairperson Baleka Mbete and deputy secretary general Thandi Modise.
Malema on Friday took a savage and unprecedentedly direct swipe at the man he considers his nemesis, Zuma.
“It is under President Zuma that we have seen the youth of the ANC being traumatised, the youth of the ANC being expelled from their own home,” Malema told a crowd of more than a thousand supporters at the University of the Witwatersrand, to roars of approval.
“It is under President Zuma that we have seen a critical voice of the voiceless being suppressed We have seen under President Zuma democracy being replaced with dictatorship. We have seen an intolerance, people becoming impatient with the youth. We have seen under President Zuma people who do not appreciate new opinions. They actually suppress new ideas and new ideas, I don’t know, maybe they serve as a threat to the current leadership of the ANC.”
Malema said he was not talking about succession within the ANC, but about the evaluation of leaders and their leadership. But he managed to accuse Zuma, less directly, of a wide array of things, including: surrounding himself with yes-men, considering himself above criticism, failing to have the necessary patience, failing to provide leadership, and bringing the concept of thought crime to the ANC.
Mantashe also referred to an incident in February, youth league members disrupted an address by Zuma in Cape Town.
The youths, who were wearing ANC and youth league T-shirts, sat together inside the Good Hope Centre, where Zuma was delivering a lecture about the party’s second president, Sefako Makgatho. The lecture formed part of the party’s centenary celebrations.
They periodically disrupted Zuma’s address, singing pro-Malema songs and making the substitution sign normally seen at soccer matches. They also booed Zuma when the rest of the audience applauded him. Police had to be called in when the group took to throwing chairs. — Staff Reporter and Sapa