Julius Malema inflames South African mine dispute
Former ANC youth leader accused of using deaths to resurrect his political career
CONTROVERSIAL former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, expelled by the governing party last year, has found a way back into the public eye as a figurehead for South Africa's striking miners. But the firebrand politician has also been accused of stirring up hatred and using the bloody dispute to further his political career.
One union has now charged him with inciting violence and intimidation during his visits to mines, including the now-infamous Marikana platinum mine where police shot dead 34 people last month. The union Solidarity claims that Malema has whipped up anti-white sentiment at rallies by singing a controversial anti-apartheid song, which is now banned, called Dubula Ibhunu, which translates as 'Shoot the Boer'.
Malema, who has urged workers to make South Africa's mines "ungovernable", had been due to address a rally at Marikana today, but the meeting was cancelled after heavy rain.
The 31-year-old's radical politics appear to have struck a chord with striking miners who are demanding better wages. And Malema told the BBC that his words had been exaggerated. "I'm not calling for violence. I'm not calling for killing of anybody," he said. "Workers must refuse to sell their labour. Enough is enough, unless capital is prepared to pay enough living wage."
However, Malema, who wants to see widespread nationalisation, also claimed that foreign investors had "stolen everything in this country - we are prepared to do everything to get back what belongs to us".
The former ally of President Jacob Zuma rounded on the ANC in the interview and said the party had been "hijacked by a group of thugs - there for themselves and their families".
In a speech to mineworkers he claimed white owners paid a "protection fee" to Zuma, who was a sell-out. "The Boers have hijacked the revolution through the [ANC] leadership," he said.
Malema was thrown out of the ANC last year after turning on Zuma. But he has remained one of the most influential political figures in South Africa, and his Twitter account has over 50,000 more followers than the President's. But he is never far from controversy.
This week it has been reported that the 31-year-old is about to be arrested after a year-long investigation into fraud and corruption allegations made against him.
And many believe his championing of the plight of the South African miners is just a ruse. Sdumo Dlamini, leader of the Congress of SA Trade Unions, has accused Malema of "walking on the bodies" of those shot dead at Marikana.
According to Farouk Chotia of the BBC. "His objective is to oust Mr Zuma as ANC leader at its conference in December, and to be readmitted into the party."