Army put on alert
SOUTH African military bases have been placed on high alert - for the first time since democracy - ahead of Julius Malema's planned meeting with soldiers today.
The expelled ANC Youth League president is set to meet soldiers near a military base in Lenasia outside Johannesburg.
He has met disgruntled mine workers from different companies around Gauteng over the past two weeks.
Malema's spokesman Floyd Shivambu said in a statement: "The meeting is as a result of the pleas and requests the armed forces, soldiers of the SANDF, sent to Malema to come listen to and voice the military and soldiers' cries and demands.
"For a considerable amount of time now, South Africa's important component of its defence force has been marginalised and threatened with dismissal whenever they raise concerns about conditions of work."
Defence Ministry spokesman Siphiwe Dlamini said all bases across the country had been placed on "high alert".
"The military is a non-partisan organisation . this is being viewed as incitement . which is a criminal offence . it will be treated as such."
In a statement, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said: "It has been the expressed intention of Malema that his activities in the mining sector are aimed at rendering the sector 'ungovernable' thereby undermining the economy.
"The country cannot afford for similar instability in the military. The SANDF is the last line of defence of the sovereignty of the country. We cannot allow anyone to play political football with this institution."
She said any attempt to destabilise the military should be regarded as anti-South African and counter-revolutionary.
"No permission has been granted by the SANDF's command structures for any soldiers to participate in the proposed gathering.
"Any member who does without proper permission will be subjected to the disciplinary code of the SANDF," she said.
South African National Defence Union spokesman Pikkie Greeff said: "We have nothing to do with this. The information we have is that among matters to be discussed are concerns over the deployment of ANC cadres to the top structures of the defence force, poor salaries and grievances around dismissals and disciplinary matters."
Speaking last night on Christiane Amanpour's programme on CNN, Malema reiterated the call for a national mine workers' strike he made at Gold Field's Driefontein mine near Carletonville, west of Johannesburg, yesterday.
Before an attentive audience of about 2,000 striking miners he called for mine workers to go on a nationwide strike for five days every month until mine bosses listened to their demand for better wages and for National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) leaders to step down.
"As long as [NUM president Senzeni] Zokwana and [NUM general secretary] Frans Baleni are still leading NUM, there will never be progress," he said.
NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said: "To call on workers to embark on illegal strikes is totally irresponsible and childish.
"The National Union of Mineworkers appeals to all its loyal members to reject Malema's hogwash and to return to work."
Cosatu called on mine workers not to allow themselves to be used as a "political football". "[Malema] is playing a dangerous game, exploiting the emotions of angry workers.
"It is revealing that his main target is not the capitalist employers, who are responsible for the mine workers' low wages and terrible conditions, but their union, NUM."
Asked by Amanpour about his mine visits, Malema said the ANCYL had "taken up the leadership of the struggle to ensure that the mineral resources of the country benefit the people of the country", especially those working in the risky conditions underground extracting it.
Malema denied that he had yesterday sang the controversial "Kill the Boer" song, saying he had replaced the words with reconciliatory words and sang "kiss the Boer, kiss the farmer".
On the same show, anti-apartheid activist Dr Mamphela Ramphele said events at Marikana showed "we have all failed" to realise the vision for the country after the first democratic elections in 1994.
She called on the government, private sector and unions to take responsibility. She said union leaders left the gap for others to exploit instead of leading.