Malema defies Zuma

2010-01-10 12:50

ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema laid bare growing cracks in

the tripartite alliance yesterday, hours after President Jacob Zuma attempted to

downplay the rift.

Speaking at an ANC rally in Kimberley, the Northern Cape, Malema

said the ruling party was the only leader of the tripartite alliance – which

includes the SA Communist Party (SACP) and Cosatu – and that the ANC “is not

co-governing with anybody”.

“The leadership of the ANC is ­under attack from those who have

imposed themselves as super-revolutionaries,” he said in an apparent reference

to the SACP leaders who have been fighting him since the ANC Youth League called

for the country’s mines to be nationalised.

Without mentioning names, Malema said such people went to Zuma’s

home at night and lied that the ANCYL wanted to remove him from his


Malema’s brief comments, made at Kimberley’s GWK Park Stadium where

the ANC held its 98th anniversary celebrations, elicited applause from the crowd

– except in the sections wearing red SACP ­T-shirts.

On Friday night, Zuma played down the tension, saying the alliance

was “dynamic and vibrant”.

He urged ANC supporters not to “be troubled by what appears to be

turbulence at times” among the ANC and its allies because the alliance was made

up of “thinking members who have strong views”.

“They will from time to time express those views in a manner that

raises temperatures, but that does not mean that there is conflict or deep

divisions within the alliance,” Zuma said at an ANC gala dinner in Galeshewe,

outside Kimberley.

“The robust debate will continue and must be encouraged as it is

part of our historical internal democracy. However, we have naturally ­impressed

upon members to ensure that the debates take place in a disciplined fashion,” he


In his speech yesterday, Zuma said working relations in the

alliance “were better than ever” but conceded that “more needs to be done to

improve the alliance at ­national and sub-national levels”.

His comments come against the backdrop of unresolved tensions

between some ANC leaders and those in the left – the SACP and ­Cosatu – over who

should influence the ideological outlook of the ANC. Some ANC leaders have

complained about what they perceive to be the communist takeover of the ruling


The spat culminated in the heckling of ANC leaders such as Billy

Masetlha, Tony Yengeni and Malema at last month’s SACP special congress.

It prompted rumours that Malema’s supporters might boo Nzimande at

yesterday’s rally. Zuma dispatched a top ANC delegation to the province ahead of

yesterday’s celebrations to calm party supporters down. On Friday, ANC national

working committee member Fikile Mbalula warned party supporters not to use the

event to boo SACP leaders. The ANC has now asked Human Settlements Minister

Tokyo Sexwale to compile a report about the booing of party leaders at the SACP


Also last month, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi – who

drafted a document titled “Draft ­alliance programme of action for fundamental

transformation of ­society” – came under attack from some ANC leaders who feared

that the left was seeking to co-determine government’s policy direction.

At yesterday’s rally, a group ­supporting Malema held banners

reading “100% Julius Malema” and “Hands off our youth league president” while

Nzimande’s backers – dispatched to a small corner in the stadium – occasionally

sang songs praising him and the SACP national chairperson Gwede Mantashe.

Malema proved to be the most popular leader with the crowd on the

day. When he was introduced he got the biggest round of applause before taking

to the podium, while Nzimande, was mainly praised by the small SACP group in the


Before addressing the crowd, Malema and Nzimande were all smiles.

But shortly ­after Malema spoke, the two seemed distant.

Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini and Nzimande emphasised the need

for unity within the tripartite alliance.

Political commentators Mohau Pheko and Ibrahim Fakir blasted Zuma

for not sufficiently addressing issues troubling the alliance.

“What is respectable behaviour? We don’t have the details of what

this means,” Pheko said on national TV.

Speaking to City Press after the rally, Malema explained that the

group he was referring to was creating the impression that it was responsible

for Zuma’s election at the 2007 ANC conference in Limpopo.

“The ANC leadership is under attack from individuals who want to

claim the Polokwane victory as the victory of a narrow, selfish group within the

organisation who think Polokwane came as a result of their own efforts,” he

said. “Polokwane came as a result of the efforts of the masses of the ANC, not a

group of friends.

“I’m not going to talk names. That is a political tendency.”

Asked why he had raised this matter at the rally, Malema said it

was important to reassure the ­nation that the ANC made Zuma its president and

that its youth wing would not “undermine that”. “Wherever the president is, he

knows that,” Malema added.

Nzimande refused to be drawn ­on Malema’s comments, saying he was

happy that Zuma had made it clear that the ANC remained a “disciplined force of

the Left” even though it was a “broad church”.

“That statement is very clear. That’s what cements the alliance,”

he said. Nzimande, who was sitting next to Malema and was occasionally seen to

be sharing banter with him despite their public fallout, also played down their

public political disagreement.

“I have no personal conflict with any of the leaders of the

alliance or the leagues for that matter ... so I have no personal grudge or

fight with anyone as a person,” he said.

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