Malema gets a boost

2011-12-19 00:00

LIMPOPO Premier Cassel Mathale retained his position as provincial ANC chairperson yesterday, paving the way for another victory for the ANC Youth League at the ANC’s national elective conference in Mangaung.

Mathale’s victory boosted efforts led by suspended ANC Youth League president Julius Malema to have President Jacob Zuma replaced as ANC president.

Malema is leading a group of ANC members from across the country who want to replace Zuma with his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, at the ANC’s national elective conference in the Free State next December.

Malema and Motlanthe, who gave a keynote address on the first day of the conference on Saturday, received thunderous applause from more than 1 000 delegates packed inside the University of Limpopo’s Onkgopotse Tiro Hall.

Although Motlanthe had urged voters not to cast their ballot according to slates, they disregarded his plea and voted Mathale’s list into power again.

Malema shared the stage with senior provincial and national ANC leaders, clad in his trademark beret bearing the league’s logo.

After the announcement of the results, which saw Mathale defeat Phaahla by 601 votes to 519, Malema and Mathale supporters said the outcome showed that President Jacob Zuma had committed “political suicide” by suspending Malema and taking over half of the Limpopo provincial government departments.

A relieved and confident Malema stopped at the main entrance on his way out, punched his fist in the air in jubilation and joined the crowd in song and dance before speeding away.

He clearly was aware that Mathale’s victory not only potentially offered him a political lifeline, but was a major boost to his efforts to topple Zuma.

He was flanked by his confidants, Clifford Motsepe and ANCYL secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa.

Thulani Twala, an ANCYL leader from the Mopani region, said the outcome showed that the people of Limpopo had a lot of confidence in Mathale’s leadership. “I feel great. The result has sent a message of confidence to the people of Limpopo and I think it will clear Mathale’s name. He will lead Limpopo towards the road to economic freedom.

“This result sets us on the correct path towards what we believe should happen in Mangaung, particularly on policy shift,” Twala said.

After the confirmation of the results, a group of women sang their lungs out in jubilation next to the main entrance to the university. Blowing whistles and clad mainly in ANC regalia, including kangas, they sang songs mocking Zuma and accusing him of having betrayed Malema.

O le mene mene wena shower Zuma. Orekisitse Malema (You are a sell-out, you shower. You sold Malema out)”, they chanted. One of them, Whisker Manotwane, from the Phooko Ratsoma branch in Sekhukhune, said she was pleased because Mathale’s name had been “cleared” by the election results.

“They said Mathale is a thief. They must stop spreading lies about him. Mathale is ours. We go everywhere with him. Zuma has committed a political suicide,” Manotwane said.

Another Mathale supporter, who did not want her name published because she works for a municipality run by his opponents, said, “We want people to learn not to spread rumours without evidence. We have elected a person we like. We like Mathale and want him to be fired only when there is evidence.”

Mathale’s second term was a bitter pill to swallow for Phaahla’s supporters. Some were inconsolable and claimed Mathale had won by “crookery”.

A disappointed Limpopo businessman, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, said: “It is a sad day for Limpopo. I have been receiving calls from as far as Gauteng. People are asking themselves, ‘What is wrong with Limpopo?’Despite all of the problems and corruption, they still elected this man. And they lump us together. So he had a lot of money to bribe delegates left, right and centre. He probably rigged it. It is not possible for him to win.”

But Mathale supporters said Phaahla’s supporters just had sour grapes.

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