Malema: How are we a security threat?

2012-09-12 19:32
Julius Malema (File, Sapa)

Julius Malema (File, Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema on Wednesday mocked reports that the country's military bases had been put on high alert ahead of his address to soldiers.

"Putting all the camps on high alert ... Since when people gathering to discuss grievances are a security threat in a democratic South Africa?" Malema asked about 30 soldiers who were suspended over an old strike.

Malema's plans to address soldiers sparked a warning from Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula that any bid to destabilise the military would be acted on and that troops who attended would be disciplined.

Even though he no longer has any official political role, Malema remains an inflammatory figure and has been playing on frustrations at strike-hit mines after a mass shooting by police last month.

He has capitalised on the unrest which has spread to gold mines to push his radical views and attack enemies within the ANC party such as President Jacob Zuma.

"Everything is collapsing, we need to rebuild confidence," he charged in a hall near Johannesburg.

"People don't have roads, clean water, not jobs and those with jobs are treated as slaves. These are the symptom of a dictatorship."

South African National Defence Force (SANDF) spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini told AFP that military bases had been told to monitor the situation, saying he was happy with the media referrals to high alert but that it was "too harsh" a term.

"We have been asking officers to monitor the situation and make sure that everybody is at their work station and reporting to work," he said, adding members of the force should continue with "normal day-to-day duties."

The plight of soldiers suspended in 2009 for a strike over pay is the latest rallying point taken up by Malema, who was booted from the ANC's Youth League this year for ill-discipline.

"Military discipline doesn't mean you must keep quiet when things are going wrong," Malema said.

He said he did not plan to de-stabilise the government, Sapa reported.

"We are not planning any mutiny. We are not planning to remove any government undemocratically. Yes, we don't love this leadership... we want to remove it democratically," Malema said.

"We will never conspire with the soldiers, or anybody to engage in an illegal activity. Our government is leaderless. Your [the soldiers'] issue now is that from 2009 until now, your issue is not resolved."

The soldiers needed to be allowed to return to work since the courts had ruled in their favour.

"In your case there is no need for an internal disciplinary hearing, because your employer has shown its intentions. You are going to go into the hearings already [being] found guilty," Malema said.

"The court has ruled that you cannot be expelled in that way. They [the SA National Defence Force] must come back and say, 'everything has gone wrong, and we are dropping everything and are re-integrating you back into the system'."

Undermined

Malema likened the action taken against the soldiers to his expulsion from the African National Congress.

"It is the same thing we have gone through. [ANC secretary-general] Gwede Mantashe goes public and says, 'we are going to deal with them harshly'," Malema said.

"The drunkard [ANC spokesperson] Jackson Mthembu says, 'we cannot harbour such people in the ANC'. Even the military, they said they cannot harbour such people [like you]."

Mthembu was found guilty of drunk driving in Cape Town in March 2010.

Zuma had promised to pay soldiers better wages, but had not followed through.

"I heard him properly because I was always sitting next to him," Malema said.

He said unions could have got better wages for public servants during negotiations earlier in the year.

"Workers can't get a proper salary... because the unions are going to [the ANC conference] in Mangaung," Malema said.

"Because of factional battles in the African National Congress, the rights of workers have been undermined. Anything that will embarrass President Zuma, including a strike, [they say], we don't want that."

He said he had always told Zuma "votes were not cheap or free".

"Once president Zuma began to do other things, and move away from that mandate, that's when we said this is something else."

Of Malema's many comments in recent weeks around the mines crisis, a stand-out remark was his call to make the mining sector "ungovernable".

Mapisa-Nqakula said Malema would not be permitted to make similar calls to the military.

Read more on:    anc  |  sandf  |  julius malema  |  jackson mthembu  |  jacob zuma  |  politics
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