D-Day for ‘economic freedom’ march

2011-10-27 07:40

Thousands of ANC Youth League supporters are expected to walk from the Joburg CBD to Pretoria today as part of an “economic freedom youth mass action”.

After being denied permission to hold a vigil outside the Union Buildings last night, the league secured the Caledonian Stadium in Pretoria as a venue.

Tshwane metro police denied permission for the Union Buildings vigil due to security concerns. The Presidency also declined because the site is classified as a national key point.

However, permission was granted for the youth league to march to the Union Buildings tomorrow morning to hand a memorandum to the Presidency.

The ANC expressed its support for the league’s march. Secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said it did not see it as attack on the ANC government and was not linking it to the party’s next year elective conference.

Youth league members were expected to march from Beyers Naude Square to the Chamber of Mines in Johannesburg, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in Sandton, and then to Pretoria.

On Monday, youth league leader Julius Malema said there would be 1 000 youth league marshals, 500 police officers as well as private security company members to ensure the march was peaceful.

Police and the Gauteng community safety department said their officers were ready for any eventuality.

The last mass action by youth league members happened outside Luthuli House in central Joburg at the start of Malema’s disciplinary hearing last month.

Youth league members threw rocks, bottles and bricks at journalists and police, and burnt ANC flags and t-shirts with pictures of President Jacob Zuma printed on them.

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), labour federation Cosatu, the SA Municipal Workers’ Union, the SA Students’ Congress, the Congress of the People Youth Movement (CopeYM) and National Union of Metalworkers of SA supported the youth league’s march.

The NYDA said the march raised salient youth development issues. It would not make a financial contribution towards the march, but called on the youth to participate.

Although CopeYM supported the march, it said it would not participate.

Not supporting the action was lobby group AfriForum, the Young Communist League, the SA Communist Party and the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU).

The CWU said it would rather support the Young Communist League’s job youth summit, which started on Wednesday, and ends tomorrow.

Political analyst Steven Friedman said the league’s mass action would test the support base of its leader Julius Malema ahead of the ruling party’s elective conference next year.

Another analyst Aubrey Matshiqi said a multiplicity of political motivations were behind the league’s march.

The march was taking place a day after testimony in Malema’s disciplinary hearing was concluded. He and several co-leaders face charges of bringing the ruling party into disrepute.

ANC veteran Winnie Madikizela Mandela was the last to testify in his defence yesterday.

Arguments were scheduled for November 3.

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