16 June, 2011
ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema took no prisoners as he laid into the policies of President Jacob Zuma's government and questioned the SA Communist Party's commitment to the poor.
Labour federation Cosatu did not escape Malema's vitriol as he delivered his 90- minute political report at the league's national congress at Gallagher Estate, Midrand, yesterday.
Zuma responded mildly, telling the 5500 youth league delegates that his administration was committed to meeting its obligations.
Malema asked if the ANC leadership was bold enough to carry out the expectations of the poor on issues such as the redistribution of land.
"As things stand, a few white people own 90% of South Africa's wealth and [the slogan] that 'the country belongs to all who live in it' looks untrue. How does South Africa belong to all of us when the majority of our people do not own anything?"
Malema called on the league to increase the ANC's electoral margin to give it a two-thirds majority, which would enable it to change the Constitution and dump "failed" policies such "willing seller, willing buyer" of land.
"Our mission from this congress is to make sure that the support of the ANC is not only consolidated but increased to more than 75% in the 2014 general election, particularly among blacks and Africans," said Malema.
"For us to expropriate without compensation, we should change the Constitution so a greater majority is necessary. We have the capacity to reach more than 75%, like Frelimo in Mozambique and the MPLA in Angola."
ANC attempts in the past 17 years to transform the economy had "failed dismally" because "those who own the means of production refuse to transfer wealth to the historically disadvantaged".
The government had failed to achieve much of its 30% target for land distribution within 20 years of democracy. So far it had redistributed less than 5% of the land.
"The struggle for land reform and transfer of land is long overdue and should be speeded up to avoid the conflicts that characterise many post-independence African states.
"The aim to redivide and redistribute the land can never be successful if the approach is to buy back our land," he said.
He asked if the ANC leadership was bold enough to introduce radical policies.
"Do we have courageous men and women who, 100 years after the existence of the ANC, will say we should confront the economic and neocolonial subjugation of the black majority and Africans in the same way that Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and their generation confronted apartheid repression in the face of death, torture and imprisonment?"
Malema lambasted the Communist Party leadership for turning the party into a "lobby group" for the acquisition of government positions. He called on the youth league to fill the "vacuum".
He attacked Cosatu, calling on the young to supplant it by organising workers on factory floor and on farms.
"The league should mobilise workers in mines, factories and farms, and organically develop ideological and political positions that will lead to their total emancipation.
"The ANC Youth League should be the voice of the petrol attendants, waiters and waitresses and tellers in retail chain stores because they do not have a voice," said Malema.
Civic organisation Sanco was "non-existent" as far as the mobilisation of informal settlement dwellers was concerned.
In what looks like a climb-down by the youth league on its push for the ousting of Zuma, Malema yesterday gave the president his assurance of the league's unwavering support. He declared the league to be Zuma's "protectors".
But it was clear Malema still had ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe in his sights as he called for a vibrant and energetic young leadership to take the ANC into the future.
"Younger leadership is energetic and less conservative. This is proven by the courage of Walter Sisulu, who was elected secretary-general of the ANC at the age of 37 and turned it into a mass fighting movement," he said.
Malema attacked the Zuma administration's lack of "coherent" foreign policy on Libya, Ivory Coast and the "repressive monarchy" in Swaziland.
In response, Zuma was careful if not diplomatic.
He referred the youth league to the positions of the ANC and the government on land reform, while admitting that more needed to be done.
"We announced . that, in order to have more land available for land reform and restitution, the government is looking at three forms of land-holding," said Zuma.
"The ANC government is working on measures to speed up the restitution process," he said.
Zuma said the league had a duty to lead the struggles of young people on issues such as drug abuse and unemployment.
He defended his position on Libya and said that it had been widely canvassed within the African Union.
Zuma called on the youth league to be disciplined and not let its congress degenerate into chaos, as it did in 2008.
"Should there be contestation for any position, whoever wins, once that decision is taken, that leadership will have to be accepted, respected and given space to function as this is the policy of the movement," Zuma said.