Radical to the core

2011-07-23 15:11

The militancy and radicalism of the newly elected ANC Youth League ­secretary-general, Sindiso Magaqa, makes Julius Malema look like Mickey Mouse.

In an interview with City Press at his home in Mzimkhulu’s Ibisi township in KwaZulu-Natal, Magaqa comes out guns blazing – warning of dire consequences for those who challenge the league’s ­“economic freedom in our lifetime” war cry, calling white people “thieves and criminals”, and charging that “jealous” SA Communist Party (SACP) ­general secretary Blade ­Nzimande has destroyed the party.

We find the smartly dressed Magaqa?(28) waiting for us outside his big family house. A small boy is washing a beautiful 3-series BMW. Magaqa tells us it’s a hired car and that he has to drive to the airport shortly because there’s a “programme” he has to ­attend with Malema in Limpopo.

Magaqa has the energy and passion of an evangelical preacher but the intensity of his facial expressions and the forcefulness of his gestures is that of a revolutionary – he’s not about ­saving souls, but about freeing the masses from “economic apartheid”. And he is “not going to beg for economic freedom”.

He warns: “We (the league) are like a train moving forward. We will crush everyone who is opposing us.”
The league wants the ANC’s ­Mangaung conference next year to adopt their radical programmes.

He also says that white farmers have themselves to blame for the ­“imminent” expropriation of land without compensation.

Those who are close to Magaqa say he is a stubborn man who goes after what he wants until he gets it. They say his tenacity has seen him ­occupying leadership positions from an early age.

Magaqa is also renowned for his ­soccer skills – his friends say he is a good striker.

A political activist from the age of 13, Magaqa gave teachers a headache in school. He once organised and led a march against mismanagement of funds at a local high school.

His radical style of leadership has ­also earned him political foes within the league. One youth league leader says: “He is grudging and vindictive. He has no regard for democratic ­processes.”

But Magaqa says insults will not deter him and the league from achieving their prime objective of “economic freedom in our lifetime”.

To him, mine nationalisation “is a done deal”. He says: “The ANC is not researching nationalisation of mines but merely looking into the modalities of how to do it.”

He says the league is not worried by threats of foreign investors pulling the plug on their investments if mine ­nationalisation becomes government policy.

“We can’t be held to ransom by a few rich, white people. They have been milking our resources for years. They are still exploiting us. We say: ‘Not in our lifetime’.”

With regards to land expropriation without compensation, Magaqa calls white farmers “thieves and criminals” who stole the land from “our ­forefathers”.

“White people came from the sea without land and cows. We know they robbed our forefathers by giving them mirrors in exchange for cows. They have not been contributing anything to the upliftment of black communities. People are losing patience. They want the ANC to take back what is rightfully theirs. It is a disgrace that we have not even exceeded 7% in redistributing land since 1994,” he says.

On the ANC’s leadership battle at its elective congress next year, he says: “We want leadership that is not afraid of capital. If you don’t take our ­programmes, you are not our friend.”

It is an open secret that the league is campaigning for the ousting of the incumbent ANC secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe. Eyeing that position is Fikile Mbalula, a former league leader and current sports minister.

President Jacob Zuma has been ­under constant attack from Malema, once his staunch supporter in his ugly fight against former president Thabo Mbeki.

In a veiled swipe at Zuma, Magaqa says that in Mangaung, the league will not vote out of anger, as was the case in Polokwane.

About Nzimande, he says: “What is Blade? After all, he is the ­person who killed the SACP. He is a failure who is thirsty for ideas.”

The league has been calling for ­Nzimande to quit as the higher education minister and return to Cosatu House to focus on his duties as SACP general secretary on a full-time basis.

Magaqa says: “The SACP is leaderless because its leaders are exiled. Only God knows who exiled them. Blade is jealous of the ANCYL, finish and klaar. He would have wanted the SACP to push for nationalisation of mines.”

Magaqa accuses white people of hating the ANC.

He says: “White people are not voting for us. The ANC is for blacks and Africans in particular. Whites paint our government as corrupt. But there are many corrupt white ­people out there.”

He boasts that the youth league sets the agenda in South ­Africa and on the continent as a whole.

He says: “The league is not a kingmaker but is very ­influential. Our views are not sponsored. The purpose of the league is to give oomph to the ANC. We are the reservoir of ­information in the ANC.”

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