Zuma was responding to concerns raised by the Greytown farming community over Malema's assertion that land earmarked for redistribution could be taken away without payment if the farmers did not accept the money offered for it.
"What Malema said is neither the ANC's nor the government's policy," Zuma said yesterday while on the election campaign trail in impoverished Msinga, in the Greytown area of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.
PARTY TIME: President Jacob Zuma dances during yesterday's election rally in Pamaroy near Msinga in the Greytown area of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands
"Policies are not for individuals but are discussed. The ANCYL cannot determine policies. People can have ideas and those ideas discussed in the ANC. There were many Malemas before, but issues were discussed within the organisation and policies formulated," Zuma said.
"You will be surprised that one day Malema will be stopping others from raising what he had raised before.
"Malema is on a learning curve and the farming community must not be shaken by his comments. What he says are simply his views."
Zuma went on to say that the ANC was older than its outspoken youth leader.
"There was a similar concern when the ANCYL had an idea about the nationalisation of mines. We allowed that to be discussed and debated in the ANC because it had been previously debated many decades before when Nelson Mandela came out of prison. The nationalisation of mines was also discussed and we came [up] with a mixed economy policy. The ANC does not take policy [decisions] emotionally."
Earlier, Michael Yeadon, a community leader who represents farmers in the Greytown area, told Zuma that Malema was a "very scary man" within the community.
"As a faming community, we also want clean water, roads and schools so that we will be able to feed the community of Greytown and be able create job opportunities.
"Also, we want the ANC to be more accessible to us so that we can work together and be able to deliver to the community. We want the assurance from the president that we will be protected [from Malema]."
After assuring farmers that their land would not be taken from them, Zuma urged farmers, the business community and local traditional leaders to vote for the ANC in next Wednesday's local government elections.
"It is the only party that has the clear understanding of the needs of the people," Zuma said.
Greytown and Msinga - the focus of Zuma's visit yesterday - have been IFP-controlled since the first local government elections in 1996. Development in the area has been almost nonexistent.
There is very little infrastructure in the area, which has massive unemployment, and tens of thousands of people are forced to live with no access to proper housing, running water, tarred roads or electricity.
Zuma was confronted by scores of dissatisfied residents who made it clear that they now want to try their luck with the ruling party to see whether it can deliver their basic needs.
However, the IFP mayor of Msinga Local Municipality, Joshua Sikakhane, has rubbished their claims, saying poor service delivery in the area stemmed from the fact that their annual budget was a mere R72-million - "very little" in his view. This was in addition to a R61-million annual grant from the national government for the provision of services.
According to the 2001 national census more than 168000 people live in Msinga.
Msinga falls under the IFP-led Umzinyathi municipality, and many locals claim councillors have failed them for two terms.
A Grade 11 pupil at Madudula High School, Sifiso Ndlovu, said residents were pinning their hopes on an ANC victory in the area. "We have no water, no toilets and few access roads. The critical thing that we want to see is provision of proper service delivery like other areas," he said.
Although a few clans in the area have access to water, roads, sanitation and electricity, residents claim that not a single low-cost house has been built in the area.
Sikakhane said: "With the little we get, we have been able to appoint a contractor to start building 500 low-cost houses. These will be the first batch of houses for the local people. The building of these houses was the brainchild of my municipality, responding to the complaints of the community. We have seen many communities benefiting from the Department of Human Settlements building houses, but uMsinga was often left out."
Sikakhane said the IFP-led municipality had sunk boreholes to give residents access to clean running water.