JuJu: Supporters must behave

2012-01-07 00:00

A TEMPORARY truce has taken hold in Bloemfontein ahead of the ANC’S centenary tomorrow, with party leaders ostensibly on their best behaviour for the world and placing their public differences aside for now.

While President Jacob Zuma went on a belated walkabout at Botshabelo yesterday, promising locals that running water would be installed in the township in March, his nemesis and suspended youth league leader Julius Malema was in Thaba Nchu, urging his supporters to behave and respect the ANC’s 100th birthday celebration.

Malema, who along with the women’s league and alliance leaders will not share the stage with Zuma at the party’s birthday rally, played down this shift in ANC tradition.

Zuma would speak for the entire ANC, Malema said.

“We have elected him. It doesn’t matter whether we like him or not. Whether Malema is speaking or not is immaterial because President Zuma will speak on our behalf.”

The show of discipline should not be misread as fear.

Referring to the world leaders and other VIPs that will be part of the celebration tomorrow, he said: “We will be having visitors. When you have visitors, about problems, you relax.

“If you have a grievance you must supress it because [Zimbabwean President] Robert Mugabe and other visitors will be here.”

While the ANC said earlier this week Mugabe would be among the world leaders present for the birthday tomorrow, Zimbabwe’s state media reported that he was actually on holiday in the Far East and would be represented by his deputy.

Also not present, will be former president Nelson Mandela, with ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe telling the public broadcaster that the increasingly frail statesman was “not coming and we are not expecting him to come”.

While the ANC is trying to put a lid on tensions, due to its succession battle ahead of its elective conference in the same city in December, the signs were still visible yesterday.

Before Malema’s arrival, his suspended secretary-general Sandiso Magaqa, joined a group of league supporters in song, mocking the president as the “shower man”.

It was accompanied with a gesture over their heads symbolising a shower. This was a reference to Zuma’s rape trial in 2006, during which he said he had taken a shower after having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive women.

“Malema re rapedise rea e sokolela. Shawara ya re sokodisa. [Malema pray for us we are suffering. The shower is giving us problems],” they sang in Sotho.

They also sang in praise of ANC national executive member and former youth league president Fikile Mbalula, now the minister of sport, and the man they want to replace ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. Mbalula reminded the rally how he too had been called names when he was a fiery youth leader.

Malema’s speech was also littered with populist sentiments, including that one of his biggest dreams was to see white domestic workers in South Africa.

White people controlled everything from the means of production, mines, banks and even labour, he said.

“That must change. We want to find in the next 10 years, white domestic workers,” he said to deafening applause from locals.

Malema said the youth league’s call for economic freedom, however, should not be viewed as a way of excluding whites. “We never said they must be sent to sea. We just want to share the cake.”

The venue for Malema’s rally was symbolic as it was the hometown of Dr James Moroko, the first ANC president to come to power through the support of the youth league under Mandela in the 1940s.

The Umkhonto we Sizwe Veterans Association in KwaZulu-Natal warned this week that it would not countenance any misbehaviour from the youth league.

“We want the comrades to go to the centenary celebrations with the intention of honouring all those leaders who played an important role in the party.”

“We do not expect people there to start misbehaving, provoking each other or jostling for positions.

“If there are people coming there with the intention of disrupting the event, we as the soldiers from KwaZulu-Natal will not fold arms, we will take action, whatever action.

“We are willing to die if there is a need, we will not tolerate the party being undermined by those who have their own intentions; we will see to it that everyone behaves and those who fail to do so will be made to regret it, if there is a need to fight, we will fight.”

Behind the scenes, police and the intelligence service, are also primed for possible disruptions, with over 3 000 police deployed in the city, as well as informers and agents, expected to mingle with the 100 000 crowd expected to descend on the Free State capital.

Zuma, meanwhile, had been expected to visit others sites in Bloemfontein, but supporters turned away disappointed when the visits were cancelled. ANC national executive committee member and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi turned up instead, addressing a small crowd on the history of the party and the celebrations, which 46 heads of state were expected to attend.

Motsoaledi said Zuma was very busy and had to meet with prime ministers and heads of state.

While Malema was addressing his mini-rally, high profile party members spent the morning working on their swings at the Schoeman Park golf club in Bloemfontein, at an ANC golf day.

“This [the golf tournament] is a good way to show commitment to the celebrations as well as the ANC.

“This is what your presence [here] is really about,” ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete said.

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