Zuma, ANC top guns in show of unity

ANC officials yesterday presented a united front in an effort to manage the fall-out from ANC Youth League president Julius Malema's expulsion.

President Jacob Zuma, flanked by his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe, secretary general Gwede Mantashe, his deputy Thandi Modise, chairman Baleka Mbete and treasurer-general Mathews Phosa, isolated Malema and those that supported him.

Mantashe, reading an official statement, said the organisation was concerned by the alien behaviour and disrespectful remarks coming from other ANC leaders, especially Malema.

The officials acknowledged that the youth league was using the ANC's centenary celebrations to attack the party and said this had to stop.

"As national officials of the ANC, we believe that the time has come to put an end to the blustering and often incomprehensible remarks that are made by various leaders and members of the ANC. Examples are statements made by the MKMVA (uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association) and the response thereto by the ANCYL," Mantashe said.

He said it was a sad reality that the ANCYL had chosen this year of the ANC's centenary to attempt to present the organisation as undemocratic and unresponsive to the voices of the youth.

It was the first time yesterday that the entire top officials of the ANC had addressed the media, a move that shows how desperate the party is to present a united front.

This comes after sustained attacks on Zuma and the ANC by Malema.

Last Friday, Malema called Zuma a dictator who has traumatised ANCYL members.

"The brazen and often rude and crude rhetoric to detract from real issues facing our youth does nothing to add value to the integrity of the ANC. The ANC discourages the elevation of individuals and personalities above the organisation.

"This inevitably leads to the creation of personality cults which hampers collective decision-making," Mantashe said.

Tensions are also rising in the youth league and the anti-Zuma camp as Malema's expulsion looks inevitable. Malema and his co- accused, secretary Sandiso Magaqa and spokesman Floyd Shivambu, were informed yesterday that the ANC national appeals committee (NDCA) chaired by Cyril Ramaphosa would hear their matter on April 12.

This is after Malema's defence team had requested a delay. If the NDCA endorses Malema's expulsion, the youth leader will be absent at all the important gatherings of the ANC this year, starting with the policy conference in June.

Zuma's ability to bring all top officials together yesterday gives him the upper hand to bind them to a public pledge of unity.

Motlanthe is the preferred candidate of the ANCYL to replace Zuma as party president. More importantly, should Malema take the ANC to court as he has threatened to do, Motlanthe himself will have to defend the ANC in court.