Malema alternates between van, walking
Johannesburg - The ANC Youth League's march for economic freedom made its way past the Killarney suburb in northern Johannesburg after 14:00 on Thursday.
The crowd of thousands heading to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in Sandton was led by league president Julius Malema who alternated between walking and riding in a van.
Marshals shoved journalists around, while workers came out of offices to watch the peaceful march.
The Democratic Alliance said it was disturbed by reports that the Congress of SA Students (Cosas) had forced pupils from Alexandra and Soweto schools to join the march.
"The DA is appealing to the Gauteng education department ... and ANCYL leadership to respect the right of learners to attend school without political disruptions," DA spokesperson Khume Ramulifho said in a statement.
"It is a critical time for students in Gauteng as many learners are writing final exams."
Alexandra high school ‘empty’
The SABC reported earlier that all high schools in Alexandra were empty after community members forced pupils from their classes.
Schooling was also disrupted in Soweto and on the East Rand, with some schools virtually empty, the report said.
The Freedom Front Plus Youth said the march was not the answer to South Africa's problems.
"The ANC Youth League's march for so-called economic freedom does not offer solutions for South Africa's current poverty and unemployment," spokesperson Wouter Wessels in a statement.
"If the ANCYL wants to rashly continue, their supporters will in the near future be running through the streets due to total impoverishment, a further increase in unemployment and hunger."
A ‘survival tactic’
Wessels called the march a "survival tactic" for Malema.
"Malema, in the midst of his disciplinary hearing, wants to prove to the ANC leadership that he enjoys huge support and can successfully mobilise the youth. The participants in these marches have been misled," he said.
Earlier, Chamber of Mines CEO Bheki Sibiya accepted a memorandum of grievances from the marchers.
ANCYL deputy president Ronald Lamola read out the grievances contained in the memorandum before handing it over to Sibiya.
Sibiya told thousands of supporters that the chamber will reply to their grievances within five days.
Malema told supporters that Sibiya was the face of white capital.
"He is our brother but he himself doesn't have a mine," he said.
"Sign now, peacefully. There is no blood on the floor. To prevent the blood, our demands must be met."
The chamber hung a giant banner outside their offices that read: "Unemployment is too high. Poverty is too high. Inequality is too high. We must co-operate with you to achieve economic freedom in our lifetime."
ANCYL supporters began their "economic freedom" march to the Chamber of Mines at noon, after delays due to transport.
The league was demanding the nationalisation of mines and the introduction of probation programmes within companies to give youth skills in mining.
The memorandum calls for better wages for mine workers and the active involvement of mining companies in the development of the industry.
Lamola said the league wanted the industry to be regulated to avoid the spread of diseases such as asbestosis.
He said the chamber must respond "with immediate effect".
Sibiya said: "We agree with you that unemployment is too high, poverty is too high, inequality is too high, and we must co-operate with you to achieve economic freedom in our lifetime."
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