ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has dismissed ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s claims that there were senior governing party leaders who intended to disrupt the league’s elective conference next week in Midrand, Johannesburg.
In political gatherings he addressed in Polokwane, Mahikeng and Durban at the weekend, Malema repeated claims that some leaders planned to cause chaos and choose the leadership for the league.
Speaking to members of the media this morning at Luthuli House, in the Johannesburg CBD, Mantashe said the ANC was supportive of the youth league’s conference, saying his role was to make sure that the conference is not disrupted.
He said Malema’s comments created an environment for disruptions, adding that this was meant to create “scapegoats” in case things went wrong during the conference.
The 2008 Mangaung conference, which elected Malema, was marred by chaos and rowdiness.
Asked Mantashe: “In Mangaung you saw bums outside. Was there an ANC leader who organised that?”
The youth league leader could face a challenge from Gauteng ANCYL chairman and the province’s sports and recreation MEC Lebogang Maile.
The ANC also sought to play down Malema’s comments that president Thabo Mbeki was the best leader the ANC has ever produced.
The remarks were widely interpreted as a veiled attack on President Jacob Zuma.
They come against the backdrop of recent reports that Zuma backs Maile for the leadership of the ANC’s youth wing.
Said Mantashe: “President Thabo Mbeki was one of the best leaders ever produced (by the ANC). Factually, that is correct.”