JuJu: I’ll be back

2011-11-17 00:00

JULIUS Malema pledged yesterday that even if he is out in the cold, he will continue to agitate from the sidelines and will eventually be back in the ANC fold under a new leadership.

Publicly playing on his new victimhood strategy, the ANC Youth League leader claimed he is being persecuted for his political beliefs, just as Nelson Mandela was once persecuted for fighting apartheid.

During a marathon press conference at the ANC’s Johannesburg headquarters, Malema declared that last week’s five-year suspension by the party’s disciplinary committee is part of a witch-hunt aimed at settling political scores and shutting him up.

He ascribed this to his views on nationalisation, support for land grabs without compensation and de-racialising the economy.

“Let the ANC celebrate — the celebration will be short-lived. Even if I am no longer there these youth who are in the ANC will continue with the fight. You must expel everyone if you think you are solving problems with expelling me,” he warned.

In other comments reminiscent of his former ally Jacob Zuma’s own fightback campaign, Malema said the investigation into his financial affairs by the Hawks and the SA Revenue Service, among others, is “politically motivated”.

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu immediately rejected Malema’s claims, saying it is unfortunate that the league has tried to cast doubt on the party’s national disciplinary process and outcomes.

Malema did not mince his words.

“Only the wilfully blind can believe that this matter is purely about discipline and not intended to settle political scores and stifle debate.”

What has helped the ANC succeed over the last century is “open engagement, political tolerance and tolerance of dissenting views”, he said.

“If the position of the ANC is used to settle political and personal differences and suppress ideological debate, then the movement is going to disintegrate.”

Malema said he does not want to lead a “toothless” organisation where young leaders are not allowed to speak out. The ANCYL had always been militant, as was the case when it was founded by Mandela and Oliver Tambo.

“In the 100 years of the ANC there has never been a more crucial time to defend our organisation, its constitution and its membership,” he said.

Malema repeated that he would not quit or form a new party.

“I’m not going to resign. I’m inspired by the fearlessness of Nelson Mandela … Suspended for five years is much better than 27 years in jail. Why didn’t Madiba resign in that situation? Twenty-seven years in jail compared with five years loitering on the streets. What’s that? Even if I am on the streets for five years, I will come back after five years and continue struggling for the economic emancipation of our people.”

Reporters were left in no doubt that Malema intends to help remove Zuma — whom he helped put in power in 2007 — at next year’s conference in Mangaung, where he expects to be reinstated should the internal appeal process fail.

“2012 shall mark an unprecedented rebirth of the ANC to raise the challenges of South Africans and the African continent as a whole,” he vowed.

Asked by by a British journalist if his feelings towards Zuma have changed, he said: “I have no feelings for President Zuma. My relationship with President Zuma remains a political relationship and it has got nothing to do with feelings.

“President Zuma is supported by the youth league as the current sitting president of the ANC and that’s where it ends. We will decide when the time is right whether there is a need for President Zuma to continue or not continue.”

Malema emphasised that the league will wait until the last possible moment to lodge its appeal against the sentences imposed on its leaders by the NDC.

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