Violence in Joburg as ANC censures Julius Malema
Rift opens between old guard and youth wing of South Africa's ruling party
POLITICIAN Julius Malema, a bogeyman for white South Africans, is known for pushing his luck. Yesterday's violent clashes between his supporters and police suggest the controversial 30-year-old may have gone too far, opening deep divisions in the country's ruling party.
Hundreds of members of the ANC (African National Congress) Youth League took to the streets of Johannesburg yesterday in support of Malema, throwing bottles and stones at police and journalists as they demanded the removal of President Jacob Zuma.
Zuma is the top dog of the ANC's old guard, which has decided – some observers feel belatedly – to punish Malema for his belligerent, hard-line public statements. Moves are in place to bring Malema, and some of his colleagues, before a disciplinary committee.
As Mark Paterson reported for The First Post earlier this month, Malema is an unabashed populist. He has called for the return of land from the white minority without compensation and has demanded the nationalisation of the mines and banks on which South Africa's relative prosperity is founded.
These radical demands are not the ANC party line but Malema's renegade spirit was tolerated until he and other Youth League leaders issued a statement, since retracted, calling for "regime change" in neighbouring Botswana, where President Khama has been in talks with the US about hosting a military base.
For Malema and his cohorts, Khama is kow-towing to the imperialists. For the ANC's old guard, the youth wing's intemperate outburst was the straw that broke the camel's back.
Yesterday's violence represents a deep division within the ANC between young and old – and the ANC leadership condemned it in a strongly-worded statement as "totally unacceptable, wanton acts of criminality and hooliganism".
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe went further still, reports the Times, hinting at a link between the ANC Youth League and the ANC's historic enemy, the Zulu-dominated Inkatha Freedom Party. The two groups fought a bitter rivalry in the early 1990s as apartheid came to an end.
Mantashe said: "Whoever brought the crowd must take responsibility, whether it’s an attack on the police or journalists or passing cars, the ANC will not take responsibility. We are not intimidated. They failed." ·