Sowetan reporters and Sapa
Leaders of the ANC alliance partners have come out in support of beleaguered ANC Youth League (ANCYL) leader Julius Malema, saying he need not apologise for his "kill for Zuma remarks".
Malema came under fire after he said during a June 16 rally that the youth was "prepared to take up arms and kill" for ANC president Jacob Zuma.
Last week the Human Rights Commission (HRC) gave him a 14-day ultimatum to apologise for his remarks. Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu also called on Malema to apologise. The youth leader has refused to do so.
But yesterday former PAC president, Motsoko Pheko, said Malema's statements were an insult to the intelligence of voters
"Our nation needs leaders with ideas and a national agenda that liberates people from poverty, and not bullies who are politically bankrupt and guided by egotism," he said.
On Saturday South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary, Blade Nzimande, called on the public to "stop blowing Malema's remarks out of proportion".
Addressing thousands of Young Communist League (YCL) members in Clermont, Pinetown, Nzimande said the ANCYL was just expressing its support for Zuma.
ANCYL members had the right to express their opinion, he said.
Sharing the podium with Nzimande, Malema said his utterances were made in the context of the revolutionary culture that was espoused by former youth leaders, including Nelson Mandela and Peter Mokaba.
Another leader in the tripartite alliance, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi reiterated Malema's words during ANC veteran Pretty Shuping's funeral service on Saturday.
"Because Jacob Zuma is one of us, and he is one of our leaders, for him, we are prepared to lay down our lives and to shoot and kill," he said.
Yesterday the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) said there was no reason for Malema to apologise. Sadtu deputy president Thobile Ntola said Malema and Vavi did not make a call to kill but meant they would die for the revolution.
He said that, like Malema and Vavi, his union members were ready to lay down their lives for the revolution and for a better life for all.
Ntola said he did not understand why the Human Rights Commission was quick to jump on Malema when there were more serious matters to address.
"Children were dying from contaminated water in the Eastern Cape and the HRC never said anything about those murders."
Yesterday Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven also said there was no reason for Vavi to apologise.
"If we understand the context of these statements then we will realise that there is nothing to apologise for," Craven said.