ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema complained in Mthatha and Alice yesterday that he was being persecuted by the party for telling the truth. He said he should be treated like Nelson Mandela and other renowned party leaders were when they challenged the elites of their day.
Malema, who is facing an ANC disciplinary committee on charges of bringing the party into disrepute, said part of the problem was that no one represented the ANCYL among the top six leaders of the party.
Delivering an OR Tambo memorial lecture at Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha, Malema said it was the job of the youth to introduce radical ideas. “I don’t know if I will go to a disciplinary committee [DC] or not, but it is fact: these days you are taken to a DC for telling the truth,” he said to laughter from the audience.
Malema acknowledged the contributions of many ANC leaders, including Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, but did not mention President Jacob Zuma. He said that from the ANCYL’s formation in 1944 until 2007, there had always been a person from the league in the ANC’s top six.
He also said that when Mandela left the country to undergo military training without an ANC mandate, he had not been subjected to a disciplinary hearing.
Former ANCYL president Robert Resha had spoken about arming young people with pangas, which was not a policy of the ANC. “Robert Resha was never subjected to any unnecessary process except the political process because in the leadership of the ANC there has always been somebody who comes from the ANCYL, who explains that the youth league operates this way.”
In a veiled threat to current leaders, Malema recalled that it was the youth league that had toppled ANC president Dr AB Xuma and replaced him with James Moroka.
He recalled how Xuma had called them “disrespectful” and influenced by communists, and had chased them out of his house. “It is that criticism that made them strong and they went to congress and said Xuma cannot be a president again.”
On the Fort Hare campus in Alice later, Malema’s visit stirred division between the youth league and SA Students’ Congress, both of which have nominated candidates for the students’ representative council election tomorrow.
Sasco is aligned to the SACP and is seen to support general secretary Blade Nzimande’s criticism of Malema. About 200 Sasco supporters left an SRC election rally to join a larger crowd waiting for Malema and tried to drown out the pro-Malema singing there.
Malema said the youth league and Sasco should have agreed on a single slate for the SRC election. “We are highly disappointed that progressive forces cannot find each other.”
Malema also criticised the state of the Fort Hare campus and called on the government to upgrade the university’s infrastructure in honour of Mandela.