Behave, Malema tells supporters

2012-01-06 14:46

Embattled ANC Youth leader Julius Malema has urged his supporters to show respect for the party’s 100th birthday by putting on their best behaviour.

Addressing an youth league mini-rally in the Free State town of Thaba Nchu, Malema said their show of discipline on Sunday should not be misread as fear.

“We will be having visitors. When you have visitors about problems, you relax. If you have a grievance you must suppress it because (Zimbabwean President Robert) Mugabe and other visitors will be here,” Malema said.

The selection of Thaba Nchu as the venue for the rally was rather symbolic as it was the hometown of Dr James Moroka, the first ANC president to come to power through the support of the youth league under Nelson Mandela in the late 1940s. The league wants to remove Zuma in the party’s elective conference in Mangaung in December.

Unlike at its previous birthday celebrations, Malema will not be allowed to address the rally on Sunday.

This has been interpreted as President Jacob Zuma’s way of avoiding being embarrassed by the suspended youth leader.

However, Malema played down this shift from tradition, saying Zuma would speak for the entire ANC when he delivers his speech on Sunday.

“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,” he said.

He continued his call for “economic freedom”, saying black people neither controlled their labour owned the economy.

“We want in the next 10 years to find white domestic workers working for you here in the township,” Malema said.

Malema is expected to know his fate before the end of this month following the appeal of his five-year suspension from the ruling party.

He told his supporters, who welcomed him with the rendition of the “shower” song, that he would tell people that the “ANC never made a mistake” if he was expelled from the party. Only individuals made mistakes, he said.

Sports Minister and youth league ally Fikile Mbalula nailed his colours to the mast, saying the league was never a “drum majorette” of the ANC.

But he reminded the crowd that Sunday’s event was not the elective conference but a rally, saying they should not antagonise anyone.

Earlier, Zuma did a walk-about at a shopping centre in the nearby township of Botshabelo.

He eventually held a mini-rally where he asked local residents to attend the celebrations this weekend.

He wrapped up his visit by singing his favourite “Mshini wami” song after the crowd requested him to sing.

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