Mantashe: ANC prevented 'storming of the Bastille'
Johannesburg - The ANC's decision to change the venue of the disciplinary hearings against its youth league's leadership should not be seen as "running away", African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday evening.
It follows a day of riots by ANCYL president Julius Malema's supporters outside Luthuli House in the Johannesburg CBD.
"We are changing the venue of the hearing to somewhere far outside the city," Mantashe said.
The venue was being changed because the people of Johannesburg deserved to have space and time to do business and should not be inconvenienced, he said. The new venue would not be disclosed.
"We can't be insensitive to people who must do business in the CBD.
"We do not want it to seem like we are running away from the threat of a siege on Luthuli House."
Mantashe said the ANC had managed to prevent the "storming of the Bastille" on Tuesday, when the youth league members ANCYL rioted.
They hurled broken bricks at police and journalists and burnt pictures of President Jacob Zuma.
Police used rubber bullets and teargas against the protesters, who broke off pieces of concrete barriers and cut through yellow tape used to close off streets and set dustbins alight.
Shops closed their doors after rioters banged on windows and threw pieces of glass at them.
Several banks in the city closed early.
Mantashe condemned the burning of the ANC flag by Malema's supporters on Tuesday morning.
"If you burn the flag of the ANC, you are not an ANC member. You can burn my face, you can even burn [Jacob] Zuma's face. If you burn the flag of the ANC I know you are not a member," he said.
Asked what the consequences would be for those who had trashed the city centre, he said those who were responsible for Tuesday's riots would have to take responsibility.
The ANC had processes and could not just expel members, he said.
Malema, ANCYL spokesperson Floyd Shivambu, deputy president Ronald Lamola, secretary general Sindiso Magaqa, his deputy Kenetswe Mosenogi, and treasurer general Pule Mabe face charges of bringing the ANC into disrepute and sowing divisions in ANC ranks.
Malema recently said the ANCYL would send a team to Botswana to consolidate local opposition parties and help bring about regime change, as it believed the government there was "in full co-operation with imperialists" and was undermining the "African agenda".
Asked if he would announce the outcome of Malema's hearing, Mantashe said he could not because he was not a member of the disciplinary committee.
The committee would announce the outcome once all the youth league leaders had appeared.