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'Treat me like Mandela' - Malema

By MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA, ZINE GEORGE and SINO MAJANGAZA, Dispatch | 2011-10-20 10:54:54.0

ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema complained in Mthatha and Alice this week that he was being persecuted by the party for telling the truth.

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.