The fight-back farmer takes aim at rivals

2011-12-03 16:02

Far from retiring quietly to tend to his cattle, suspended ANC Youth League leader Julius ­Malema this week continued to consolidate his power – and to try to build a possible legacy – in the league.

On Friday he took aim at the league’s Eastern Cape leadership in a visit to the ANC’s Calata House provincial headquarters in King Williams Town.

Provincial chairperson Ayanda Matiti and his secretary Mziwonke Ndabeni came under fire in a meeting between Malema and fellow national leaders and the league’s provincial executive committee (PEC).

Some members of the PEC labelled Matiti and Ndabeni “bullies”.

Matiti was accused by provincial leaders of victimising them, following the province’s disbandment of the league’s Nelson ­Mandela Bay regional leadership.

Regional leaders complained that this was payback for not backing Matiti’s ambitions of ­becoming the league’s secretary-general ahead of the elective congress in June. Sindiso Magaqa was eventually elected to the position after Matiti failed to get enough support.

Matiti, who with ­Ndabeni was planning to lead a 20km-long “economic freedom march” to the premier’s office in Bhisho tomorrow, was said to ­harbour ambitions of becoming one of the league’s national ­officials should Malema’s suspension stand and his fellow officials resign in protest.

There were fears that the Eastern Cape leadership could go the same way as Mpumalanga’s, where youth leaders like provincial secretary John Mkhatshwa were fired last month by Malema, allegedly for not supporting the league’s programme.

No decisions were reached in the Eastern Cape meeting ­because Malema and his fellow leaders had to catch a plane to Cape Town, where the Western Cape league had its provincial congress.

The province was set to elect leaders after its leadership was disbanded last year after failing to have its conference in time.

The two contenders for the chairmanship, Luvo Makasi and Jonton Snyman, were both believed to be Malema supporters.

Malema was hoping to use the province to strengthen his ­position.

But by lunch yesterday only about 40 of the more than 600 delegates expected had arrived at the conference venue.

Malema, who appealed against his five-year suspension for ­sowing division in the party, came out guns blazing as usual on Thursday when addressing a crowd in Naledi, Soweto.

He again compared President Jacob Zuma unfavourably with his precedessor, Thabo Mbeki.

Malema reportedly said Mbeki never suspended former league leader Fikile Mbalula when ­Mbalula indicated that the league wanted to replace Mbeki.

Malema’s first disciplinary last year came after he compared ­Zuma unfavourably to Mbeki.

No date had been set for Malema’s appeal hearing or that of his fellow leaders yet, but it is believed that they were still trying to negotiate for a “political solution”.

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