ANC backs firebrand Malema

Ido Lekota

Ido Lekota

The ANC has come out in defence of its controversial youth league leader Julius Malema, saying there was a campaign by the media to belittle him.

Malema, probably best known for his infamous "kill for Zuma" statements, was misunderstood by the media, the ANC national working committee (NWC) said after its weekly meeting.

"The NWC discussed what appears to be a sustained campaign in the media to belittle Julius Malema, and to position him and the youth league as being at odds with the policies of the ANC," the NWC said.

"The media has a tendency to cover comments made by Malema in a selective and often inaccurate manner, ignoring the consistent policy pronouncements of the ANC Youth League."

ANC insiders have described Malema as a "liability, who is failing to address the needs and aspirations of the working young professionals in this country".

An ANC insider said Malema's rhetoric could be appealing to the unemployed youth but he was failing to capture the imagination of "young professionals, who are now willing to come out and engage in politics as shown by the high turnout during the recent voter registration".

Malema's trail of controversial public outbursts started last year when he said the youth league would kill for ANC leader Jacob Zuma. Since then - apparently after ANC leaders rebuked him in private - he has replaced the word "kill" with "eliminate" in similar statements.

Zuma recently told the SABC that he had advised Malema to stop making controversial statements. - Sapa