Mbeki’s silence is depriving us from intellectual wealth – Malema

2012-01-10 09:57

Suspended ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema wants to meet with former president Thabo Mbeki to persuade him to become more active in domestic politics again.

But Mbeki’s spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga said Mbeki’s office had not yet received a formal request for a meeting from Malema.

Ratshitanga said Mbeki would only reconsider his decision not to comment on domestic policy if there were very good reasons.

“He has expressed reasons for having arrived at this decision. Anybody who wishes that he should change his view, must engage with those reasons.”

Malema told Siki Mgabadeli on SAFM this morning Mbeki’s decision not to comment on domestic policy “is depriving us of that intellectual wealth. I wish Mbeki would reconsider his decision not to participate”.

He said the crowd’s cheers for Mbeki as he entered the Free State stadium on Sunday during the party’s January 8 rally to hand over the centenary torch to President Jacob Zuma showed that “they are happy to see him, they have forgiven him and they embrace him”.

Malema was instrumental in the removal of Mbeki from the ANC’s presidency in 2007, in favour of Zuma.

Malema quipped that someone told him he should be charged and disciplined for making a private joke with Mbeki when he greeted him on the rally stage on Sunday.

Malema refused to disclose what the joke was about, saying “it is privileged information when you receive guidance and words of wisdom from respected leaders”.

Malema’s reference to being disciplined betrayed his bitterness at the ANC using his unfavourable comparisons between Mbeki and Zuma to charge him for sowing division in the party.

Malema, who claimed to have scored 67% for an exam he wrote on the day of his suspension in November last year, also revealed that his appeal against his five-year suspension from the ANC last year would centre on his right to argue in mitigation of his sentence.

“The secretary-general of the ANC (Gwede Mantashe) indicated that we would have a right to mitigation, but we were never given the chance to use this,” Malema said.

This indicated that Malema’s legal team perhaps thought it wiser not to use the disputed changes to its constitution – according to which a suspension from the ANC would not automatically translate to a suspension from the league – as grounds for the appeal.

He said he would be filing his heads of argument for his appeal by January 16, and the hearing will continue around January 20.

Responding to a question on whether the youth league were kingmakers, as it had claimed in the past, Malema departed from the league’s previous claims.

 “We have never been kingmakers, we have been influential” in ANC policy and leadership decisions.

He claimed the league did not get the leaders it had wanted before the party’s conference in Mahikeng in 1997, where Mbeki was elected president uncontested.

Using the history of the youth league, Malema made a number of snide side-references to his disciplinary hearing.

He said the league often had radical ideas, such as the calls of its various leaders, including Nelson Mandela, to take up arms against the apartheid regime.

The league wouldn’t have gained anything if it had asked politely, he said.

Malema claimed that the league’s “autonomy and ability to raise things without fear or favour is being eroded”.

He said the league’s role should not be reduced to bringing tea and water for ANC leaders at national executive committee meetings.

Malema further admitted that the league had missed the deadline for its message of support in the ANC’s 54-page printed January 8 statement. But he said this deadline was on January 6, and not on the 3rd as the ANC had claimed.

He said the league was told the day before that it had to submit its message of support by Friday morning at the latest, but it would not have given them enough time to distribute it to the “collective” and discuss it.

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