Praise for Juju and Co

FOR once the ANC Youth League and its rabble-rouser leader Julius Malema deserve to be praised.

Ordinarily it would be unnecessary to heap praise on an organisation for doing what is perfectly normal. The march by about 10 000 (some estimates put it at 15 000), largely unemployed and desperate young people had lots of South Africans quivering in their boots, fearing mayhem on an unprecedented scale.

South Africans were all pleasantly surprised when the march in Johannesburg and Pretoria last Thursday and Friday took off and ended without a single stone being thrown in anger.

Before the march Malema had given the assurance that no disorderly conduct would be tolerated. That his promises were honoured by his membership indicates that leaders should be able to control their members. It is when leaders keep mum, or find excuses to justify wrong-doing by their membership, that things get out of control.

Union leaders such as those at Sadtu and Samwu (educators and adults) could do worse than emulate the young people who, desperate and angry as they are, marched with dignity to draw attention to their plight.

While the country is relieved that all went well with the march, the message sent by the huge turnout should not be lost: our young people are without jobs, and with no prospects in sight their desperation is a ticking bomb waiting to explode.

There is an urgent need for the government to initiate and lead a process that will defuse the bomb before it blows up in our faces. It gets us nowhere to sit back and blame Malema for exploiting the desperation of thousands - possibly millions - of young people. The fact is it is true: there is desperation and hopelessness that cannot be ignored simply because Malema is "benefitting" from it.

Where are the great thinkers in our midst?

  • Also deserving of high praise is the Democratic Alliance, which recently elected feisty Lindiwe Mazibuko to be its parliamentary leader.

It is indeed a sign of the times that a black woman challenges a white male counterpart (Athol Trollip) and gets him deposed for the hot seat of parliamentary leader.

Mazibuko and Trollip's race and gender aside, it is noteworthy how magnanimous Trollip was in defeat. He welcomed the result of the election and bowed out gracefully, declaring: "Democracy won today."

There was no hint - let alone threat - of litigation or breaking away.

Here is another simple lesson for other political parties to accept the will of the voters.

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