Zuma hits back at disrupters

2012-02-23 16:14

President Jacob Zuma hit back after a group of young people disrupted an ANC centenary lecture by singing songs praising suspended ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, saying discipline should be applied “without fear or favour”.

Zuma said in the past the ANC had allowed people to overstep the line, but “where this is not working, we have got to utilise the ANC instruments to deal with people who are ill-disciplined, without fear or favour”.

The group started singing loudly about halfway through Zuma’s lecture on former ANC president Sefako Makgatho in the Good Hope Centre in Woodstock, Cape Town.

Zuma was speaking about land dispossession after 1913 when the group started their singing.

Disregarding them, Zuma continued his lecture, which was broadcast live on television and radio and almost drowned out by the singing. But afterwards he hit out at the protesters with a wry smile. He thanked the audience for coming to listen, but acknowledged those who had “different ways of listening”.

He said those disrupting him “have described themselves who they are. The ANC in its history has come across such situations, but it has always overcome because it stood for the freedom of our people and respect for leaders.”

Zuma later concluded by apologising to the family of Makgatho who attended – some of the women dressed in colourful traditional clothes – as well as to those who came to listen to ANC leaders but who had to put up with the disruptions.

ANC Western Cape chairperson Marius Fransman afterwards said that the party would deal with those who had caused the disruptions. “We can’t allow this to continue,” he said.

He said the Western Cape leadership had known that there could be possible “instigation” but decided to continue with the lecture nonetheless. “Even though we go through the valley of death, we will not shy away,” he said.

The group of people – about 300 out of an audience of over 3 000 – were led by members of the community organisation, Proudly Mannenberg, who were waving large yellow flags with “UDF” written on them in black.

Some of them were wearing ANC T-shirts in yellow and white with Zuma’s face on.

Before the start of the lecture, Jonton Snyman, a candidate for the ANC Youth League Western Cape chairmanship who has voiced his support for Malema before, denied that disruptions were planned or that he had anything to do with them.

Afterwards, members of Proudly Mannenberg said they came because the ANC didn’t listen to them but they could not say what issues they were trying to convey to the party.

A small group was toyi-toying after the event while holding one hand above their heads, denoting a shower head in a mocking gesture to Zuma. One of them, a Cape Town student from Mdantsane, said the youth league wanted to see Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe become president at the ANC’s elective conference in December, and Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula unseat Gwede Mantashe as secretary-general.

Meanwhile the league has organised its own ANC centenary celebrations in Soweto on Sunday and early this week announced that Malema would be one of the speakers at the event.

Malema is awaiting the outcome of a mitigation

hearing amid rumours that the party’s national disciplinary committee of

appeal is considering outright expulsion.

The verdict is expected this week or next.

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