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He said he should be treated like Nelson Mandela and other renowned party leaders were when they challenged the elites of their day.
Malema, who is facing an ANC disciplinary committee on charges of bringing the party into disrepute, said part of the problem was that no one represented the ANCYL among the top six leaders of the party.
Delivering an OR Tambo memorial lecture at Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha, Malema said it was the job of the youth to introduce radical ideas.
“I don’t know if I will go before a disciplinary committee (DC) or not, but it is fact – these days you are taken to a DC for telling the truth. It is a fact,” he said, to laughter from his audience.
Malema acknowledged the contributions of many ANC leaders, including deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe , but did not mention Jacob Zuma.
He said that from the ANCYL’s formation in 1944 until 2007, there had always been a person from the ranks of the ANCYL in the ruling party’s top six. “This is the first time we do not have someone directly from the ranks of ANCYL,” he said.
Apparently calling for a political solution to his own conflict with the ANC’s leaders, he said that when Mandela left the country to undergo military training without an ANC mandate, he was not subjected to a disciplinary hearing.
Former ANCYL president Robert Resha had spoken about arming young people with pangas, which was not a policy of the ANC.
“Robert Resha was never subjected to any unnecessary process except the political process because in the leadership of ANC there has always been somebody who comes from ANCYL who explains that the youth league operates this way.”
In a veiled threat to current leaders, Malema recalled that it was the youth league that had toppled ANC president Dr AB Xuma and replaced him with James Moroka.
He recalled how president Xuma had called them “disrespectful” and influenced by communists, and had chased them out of his house .
“It is that criticism that made them strong and they went to congress and said president Xuma cannot be a president again. At that time, not everybody was qualified to be a president, unlike today,” he said, to more laughter.
He said the current crop of ANCYL members should follow in the footsteps of their predecessors.
On the Fort Hare campus in Alice later, Malema’s visit stirred division between the youth league and the SA Students’ Congress (Sasco), which have both nominated candidates for their student representative council (SRC) election tomorrow .
Sasco is aligned to the SACP and is seen to support general secretary Blade Nzimande’s criticism of Malema .
About 200 Sasco supporters left an SRC election rally to join a larger crowd waiting for Malema and tried to drown out the pro-Malema singing there.
Malema said the youth league and Sasco should have agreed on a single slate for the SRC election.
“We are highly disappointed that progressive forces cannot find each other. It’s a painful experience. It cannot be celebrated,” he said.
Malema criticised the state of the Fort Hare campus and called on the ANC-led government to upgrade the university’s infrastructure in honour of former President Mandela, a former student. His visit to the campus last night came two months after hundreds of UFH students burnt tyres, threw stones and even ripped out geysers at their residences.
“The democratic government has a responsibility to invest resources here because this institution liberated Africa, not just South Africa.
“The only way to say thank you to Fort Hare is to make sure libraries are in good working condition, laboratories, too, as well as the hostels,” Malema said.
At both meetings, Malema urged support for the ANCYL’s planned marches in Johannesburg and Pretoria to press for youth employment.