ANC firebrand rallies supporters ahead of dismissal showdown

 

The outspoken leader of the ANC youth league marched his supporters to the centre of economic power in South Africa yesterday, in a show of force before his possible expulsion from the ruling party.

Julius Malema who will find out next week what action an ANC disciplinary committee will take against him, led a thousand-strong band of protestors to Johannesburg stock exchange and the chamber of mines as part of an escalating conflict with president Jacob Zuma.

Borrowing the language of past ANCYL leader, Nelson Mandela, he billed the protest which will move on today to the parliament in Pretoria as the “long walk to economic freedom”. His critics, who are legion, dismissed the stunt as “Malema's march” and accused him of playing personal politics with explosive economic and racial divisions which still scar South Africa.

The 30 year old serial controversialist, whose support was instrumental in Mr Zuma's taking the helm of the ANC, has turned on the president recently and routinely embarrassed the leadership with populist statements on everything from regime change in Botswana to the nationalization of mines. The result has been another disciplinary hearing which could lead to suspension or expulsion from the ANC for a man who claims to be giving a voice to South Africa's downtrodden black majority.

A heavy police presence flanked the route yesterday after youth league supporters rioted at a similar gathering in August throwing stones at police, attacking journalists and burning posters of President Zuma.

The man known to most South Africans as “Juju” led chants of "Down with white monopoly capital!" outside the chamber of mines while his supporters sang the anti-apartheid anthem “Shoot the Boer” – which has been ruled by the courts as hate speech.

The ANCYL leader has terrified white farmers by demanding their land be taken without compensation and shaken investors with calls for 60 per cent of the country's huge mining sector to be taken over by the state. He has also won a powerbase in the left wing of the ruling party that positions him as a possible kingmaker when Mr Zuma seeks a second term as head of the ANC at a party conference next year.

The president's own political fortunes remain in the balance as graft allegations over a notorious arms deal more than a decade ago have resurfaced. A new inquiry order by Mr Zuma himself last month will have the power to subpoena him and his predecessor Thabo Mbeki to answer allegations over the $3.7bn purchase of military equipment in the 1990s. The new probe has been ordered to distract attention from a more hostile investigation, according to analysts, but the renewed attention on dodgy deals by its leaders could stir popular anger at the ANC. Both men deny the allegations.

Tsholofelo Stephina Bester a young mother protesting yesterday said the ruling party leaders must make good on broken promises.

"I want them not to promise without delivering," she told the Associated Press. "I want them to deliver."

Early estimates of the number of marchers suggested that the march had fallen short of the 5,000 target set by organisers, although reports by the end of the day put the number at between 2,000 and 5,000.

Makashule Gana, the youth leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance said the poor turnout - only a few thousand of the city's 600,000 youth – was because the march was more about infighting in the ANC than unemployment and inequality.

“There are those who are using the march to fight their own battles in the ANC,” he said. “They have hijacked the plight of the young to advance their own political power.”

The son of a housemaid who has become known for champagne parties and luxury cars, Mr Malema has been accused by local outlet City Press of running a slush fund with bribe money to fund his lifestyle, allegations he denies. He has accused his critics of racism saying that the country's economic spoils shouldn't be confined to the country's white minority.

Frans Cronje, the deputy chief executive of the South African Institute of Race Relation relations, said Mr Malema was an “extremely divisive” figure who was exploiting racial fault lines for personal power. A recent report by the institute found that a decade-and-a-half after the end of Apartheid youth unemployment stands at 50 percent and that half of those aged between 25-24 would never find work.

The outcome of the disciplinary hearing, expected on 3 November, would “tell us a great deal about the balance of power inside the ANC,” said Mr Cronje.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Direct Mail Machine Operative

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an i...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Day In a Page

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US