Julius and ally jeered by delegates

2010-04-11 10:54

ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema faced a rebellion from within the ranks of his own party yesterday.

He was booed, jeered and prevented from addressing hundreds of delegates attending the league’s Limpopo electoral conference at the Makhado FET (Further Education and Training) College outside ­Louis Trichard.

The conference degenerated into chaos, with rival delegates swearing and pointing fingers at each other while others shouted: “War! war! war!” at Malema.

Another group interrupted the conference for about 20 minutes, singing anti-Malema songs and preventing him and his ally, Premier Cassel Mathale, from speaking.

Malema’s apparent unpopularity among conference delegates came after he endorsed a faction challenging the league’s current provincial leader, Lehlogonolo Masoga.

Malema was seen as divisive and meddlesome after calling on a camp led by his confidant, Jacob Lebogo, the Peter Mokaba ANCYL regional secretary, to take over.

Malema reacted to the jeering by ordering the media to leave the venue. He later did the same to the ­police, who had arrived with a large contingent of officers and a helicopter.

Malema had earlier in the day chased around and beat another rival delegate with a chair for jeering him with a song. Malema had just ­arrived in Mathale’s BMW as part of a four-vehicle convoy at a nearby venue where accreditation was being processed.

The delegate, who did not want his name published for fear of a possible reprisal, later said: “He hit me with a chair for no apparent reason. I merely expressed my view as a young person. I did not insult him.”

Police at the scene confirmed that a brawl broke out between rival delegates on Friday night, and said some of the delegates were drunk.

Malema’s deputy and the man seen as a likely challenger to the throne, Andile Lungisa, also attended the tension-filled conference and sat between Malema and Masoga.

The drama started when a group of Masoga supporters stormed into the conference just after it had started, waving two banners, one proclaiming “No to tender committee leadership” and the other “Masoga and (provincial secretary Goodman) Mitileni or nothing”.

Their spokesperson, Leslie Malala, from the Vhembe region, said they did not want Malema and Mathale to address them.

They also did not want the conference to proceed until all delegates had been accredited.

They sang anti-Malema songs while heading for the main stage, prompting ANC provincial deputy chairperson Mavhungu Leruli to try in vain to call them to order.

“Comrades, we have heard that you are starting a war,” shouted Leruli. “Please sit down. We do not want security to manhandle you.”

The group briefly sat down after Masoga asked them to occupy vacant seats at the back of the hall, but Malema supporters clad in yellow T-shirts with “Dubula! Dubula!” written on them, rose and sang in defence of the youth leader.

They ­also interrupted and jeered a Congress of South African Students provincial leader who said her organisation supported Masoga because it wanted leaders who would take education seriously.

“I am still receiving threats for the organisation’s support of Masoga,” she said, prompting loud cheers from Masoga supporters.

The anti-Malema group then resumed their anti-Malema songs, prompting the youth leader to order a media blackout.

The group walked to the podium, trying to call Leruli to order for asking the media to leave.

Leruli would not entertain any motion until the media had left, but the group continued singing, even ignoring Masoga when he asked them to let Malema speak.

At this point Malema briefly left the venue to speak to the police at the entrance of the main hall.

He apparently asked them to remove the rowdy group from the hall, but one police official told City Press that was not their responsibility.

Malema finally took to the podium shortly after 3pm and tried to speak against the chanting group.

“Security, please stop this thing of interrupting me,” Malema said.

“Conference is going to proceed whether somebody wants it or not and the premier is going to speak in the conference and no one is going to stop that.”

He blamed poor security for the continued booing, vowing that a new leadership would be elected in spite of it.

“War or not war, the conference will continue. Let the war be democratic,” Malema said.

Malema finally removed ANCYL security guards from the hall and­­ ordered the police to remove the rowdy group from the hall.

He and Mathale eventually addressed the conference. Outside, the group clashed with the police, who then fired rubber bullets and sprayed them using a water cannon.

No fewer than three delegates were rushed to the nearby hospital.

Masoga then stormed out of the conference to address the disgruntled group, saying he was disappointed with Malema for letting the police loose on ANCYL members.

Masonga’s supporters then left the conference, saying they were no longer taking part.

Shortly after that, the police arrested the ANCYL provincial deputy secretary Thandi Moraka, allegedly on Malema’s instructions, for leaving with conference documents.

Malema convened his supporters and declared their candidates as having been elected unopposed.

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