African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema and ANC MP Winnie Mandela leaving the Guateng court where Malema was being accused of increasing racial tensions by singing revolutionary songs from the days of the armed struggle in South Africa, a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
ANC Youth League members disrupt Zuma speech
10 Jul 2012 20:14 - Sapa
Five league supporters were detained and released on a warning after violence erupted at a hall in Limpopo, where President Jacob Zuma was speaking.
"They were an unruly group of people who started in the afternoon by blocking off the roads," said Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi.
About 300 supporters of expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema converged outside the Holy Worship Church hall, in Thohoyandou, before Zuma arrived.
They carried banners with Malema's picture and sang: "Zuma is troubling us".
They became involved in a fight with ANC security officers when the entered the hall at 4pm.
"Those people are anti-Zuma and came inside the venue and started singing anti-Zuma songs. Then the ANC security inside the hall contained them and assaulted them," said Mulaudzi, adding that the police were called in to defuse the situation.
"Five of them, who were among those singing anti-Zuma songs, were bundled into a police van and taken away from the venue.
"We then gave them a serious warning to refrain from causing problems in the area. They complied and were released on a warning."
Pelted with rocks
Mulaudzi was unable to say what happened to the security officials who assaulted them.
Zuma began speaking after 5pm. Violence continued outside the hall during his address.
"They continued to cause a disruption. Even when president Zuma started and was busy with the lecture, they were pelting police with stones," said Mulaudzi.
"We had to use a water cannon to disperse them ... We have now neutralised them. The situation is under control."
Zuma's lecture was about the legacy of former president Nelson Mandela.
Part of it touched on the history of the youth league in Mandela's time.
Mandela and his friend Oliver Tambo were founding members of the ANC Youth League, which was established in 1944.
"The ANC youth was impatient with the leadership of the time, whom they felt were too gentlemanly in their approach to the struggle," said Zuma.
A magnet through persuasion
He likened Mandela to a "magnet" which attracted people "through persuasion".
"Inside our country, even those who were, and who are still, fundamentally opposed to the ANC, and who fought tooth and nail to keep South Africa a racist pariah state, now claim Nelson Mandela as their own," said Zuma.
"Such is the power of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, a unique and great statesman who is able to win over even his enemies."
During the first 10 years of democracy, five of which were under Mandela's leadership, 789 laws or amendments aimed at removing apartheid laws, were approved by Parliament.
"He [Mandela] worked tirelessly to change South Africa for the better," said Zuma.
Madiba remained a loyal and disciplined member of the ANC through "thick and thin", he said.
"The abiding lesson to us is that all South Africans should continue the reconciliation project that he so passionately led on behalf of the ANC.
"Our differences should not set us apart from one another, but should be the compelling reason for us to draw closer to forge a common future, all of us, black and white."
Hills to climb
Zuma said South Africa still had many hills to climb.
One of them was social and economic emancipation, as outlined at the party's policy conference last week.
"One hill that we must climb together is one taking us to true economic and social emancipation," said Zuma.
"As the ANC we have outlined the vision of economic emancipation ... We look forward to tangible resolutions at the national conference in Mangaung on the economy, taking forward our discussions at the policy conference last month."
On Wednesday, the ANC will be in Mvezo in the Eastern Cape, Mandela's birthplace, to launch the Nelson Mandela Legacy Bridge over the Mbashe river.
Zuma's spokesperson Mac Maharaj could not immediately be reached for comment on the violence. – Sapa
Brutal 'ANC vets' in the firing line
13 Jul 2012 07:24 - Michelle Pietersen
The ANC's ex-soldiers are accused of intimidating Jacob Zuma's opponents at Mandela lecture, writes Michelle Pietersen.
The Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association has been accused of having acted unlawfully through its show of force during the Nelson Mandela centenary lecture in Limpopo on Tuesday.
Its use of pepper spray during a scuffle between ANC Youth League members and the MK veterans outside the hall where President Jacob Zuma delivered the lecture has sparked a war of words about who caused the death of an elderly man.
It is claimed that the association is being used by people supporting Zuma for a second term to intimidate his detractors in the run-up to the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung in December.
What was supposed to have been a historical lecture on the political life of Mandela ended in tragedy after Alpheus Moseri, a 68-year-old resident of a nearby village, Matatadibeng, collapsed in the bus on his way home from the event. Locals claim he suffered an asthma attack that had allegedly been sparked by the fumes of the pepper spray that members of the association had used.
But the association has strongly denied culpability. “He is a former member of the MK vets,” said its chairperson, Kebby Maphatsoe. “We can’t confirm that his death was caused by the incident that happened or something else until the health department completes the postmortem.
“It is unfortunate that on such an important day during a lecture of one of the first commanders-in-chief of Umkhonto weSizwe you have such an incident. The anarchist [youth league] should feel ashamed of themselves for undermining Tata Mandela and insulting the president.”
Some ANC members have insisted that the veteran’s organisation did well to restore order and prevent chaos, thus allowing Zuma to continue with his speech. Maphatsoe said: “For them [the youth league]to have started the old man’s death is their fault. We were dealing with the head of state here and we couldn’t take chances.”
Many of the association’s members who were clad in the signature camouflage gear appeared to be too young to be veterans, which has sparked claims that younger people politically aligned to Zuma were infiltrating it for political ends.
Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudizi said it received information that Moseri died in hospital early on Wednesday morning. A postmortem was being conducted to confirm the cause of death, he said. The family could not be reached for comment.
Tuesday was a day of high drama: earlier, before the scuffles, news broke that party veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela had written a scathing letter to the ANC, claiming that it was abusing Nelson Mandela for its own agenda and disrespecting the Mandela family. Senior members of the family boycotted the lecture and Zuma continued with it without their blessing.
Later on Tuesday two Limpopo youth league leaders – provincial chairperson Rudzani Ludere and secretary Jacob Lebogo – were assaulted and sprayed with pepper spray by the veterans, and dozens other accredited members of the local ANC branches were removed or prevented from attending the lecture.
Maphatsoe said: “Since the youth league started with the campaign to disrupt these gatherings we took it upon ourselves not to allow it. No one will protect the ANC if we don’t do that. They have taken a posture to undermine the president of the ANC wherever he addresses [events] and we think it’s high time to put it to a stop.
“We have decided to use minimum force. We don’t use teargas because we were disbanded, so we are an association. But we will use minimum force [and] if it comes to a push we will use physical force to remove them from ANC gatherings. They were singing derogatory songs about the president. We must protect the dignity of the leadership of the ANC lead by President Zuma. They can’t continue to insult the president."
Divisions multiply as Zuma's unity talk rings hollow
12 Jul 2012 12:49 -
Efforts to emulate Mandela haven't worked out well for President Zuma, who has done more to divide the ANC than unite it, writes Michelle Pietersen.
It was with deep a sense of irony that we saw President Jacob Zuma delivering a lecture on the unifying political life of Nelson Mandela, even as a political storm erupted in violence outside the church where he was speaking, resulting in scenes of children as young as seven being chased down the road by gun-wielding police officers.
Zuma was delivering the centenary lecture on Mandela, South Africa's first democratically elected president, at the Worship House Church in Thohoyandou, Limpopo on Tuesday .
He stood before a crowd, many of whom the ANC had bused in from his strongholds in the KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces, relaying the incredible story of Mandela, who despite his imperfections is world renowned as a principled unifier.
This was while the divisions in the ANC were on display in a most dramatic fashion outside the venue, in scenes reminiscent of the apartheid era.
Hundreds of security forces including those from the South African Police Service's riot unit, members of the National Intelligence Agency, the MKMVA, and private security were stationed inside and outside the church. Stacks of barbwire fence made up a steel wall fortress around the area.
Those who were barred from entering the lecture hall, many whom were ANC and ANC Youth League members, and other inquisitive locals who gathered to get a glimpse of the president, were attacked with water cannons and tear gas as police officers, carrying R5 rifles, chased after the unwanted guests shouting: "Voetsek, jou hond [Clear off, you dog].
A Nyala patrolled the entrance, at times jerking in towards the crowd. Two provincial youth league leaders were assaulted while dozens more (accredited) members of the local ANC branches were removed or prevented from attending the lecture.
The drama started inside the hall when a group of ANC and youth league members began singing in support of Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, while another group sang political praises for Zuma. The former group were chucked out because they were allegedly disrupting the lecture, which had not yet begun.
The Mandela lecture was meant to have been an opportunity for Zuma to reassert himself as a unifier, following in Mandela's footsteps. Instead, Zuma failed to show any leadership, and pretended that the violence outside did not exist. He continued with his speech uninterrupted, before being whisked out and away by his security team.
If he were indeed cut from the same cloth as Mandela, Zuma would have put his sensitive ego aside and marched outside to speak to them, and to listen. If anything, his aloofness only confirmed his detractors' views that he lacked backbone and true leadership instincts, and was incapable of uniting the ANC – something he had promised to do.
It's been less than five years since Zuma stood on the podium at the close of the ANC's watershed Polokwane conference. Emboldened by his victory over Thabo Mbeki and by the confidence and support of the party's branches, Zuma said: "This is not the time for the luxury of division and disunity at all levels … In every walk of life, we must close ranks".
In the run-up to the Polokwane conference, Zuma's successful campaign centred on him moulding himself as a Madiba-like unifier. Zuma punted himself as the comrade who would unite the various warring factions of the ANC and alliance partners. During his first speech as ANC president in 2007, Zuma referred to and quoted Mandela at length as he cashed in his winning campaign ticket.
He said: "Our father, stalwart and icon, Isithwalandwe Comrade Nelson Mandela outlined the importance of unity eloquently in a message to the ANC in exile after the 1976 uprising. He said: 'Every effort to divide the blacks, to woo and pit one black group against another must be vigorously repulsed. Our people – African, Coloured, Indian and democratic whites – must be united into a single massive and solid wall of resistance, of united mass action'."
"In a message sent to the ANC during the Kabwe conference, Madiba again reminded us that unity is the rock upon which the ANC was founded. This message was relevant then, it is still relevant to us today. We have to confront the issue of unity in the same manner that Madiba instructed the ANC in 1976 and 1985," continued Zuma.
In delivering the Mandela lecture on Tuesday, Zuma did so without the blessing of some senior members of the Mandela family who boycotted the event. Mere hours before Zuma's address, news broke that ANC stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela had written a scathing letter to the ANC expressing the family's disappointment in the "shoddy" manner in which the party had treated Mandela and the family over the years. She charged that the ANC only ever cared about Mandela when it needed him to pursue its own "agenda".
"No one has cared to establish how we are doing as a family. It is quite clear that we do not matter at all, we only do when we have to be used for some agenda," said Madikizela-Mandela.
Zuma visited Mandela at home on Wednesday to wish him well for his upcoming birthday. However, all indications suggest that Zuma has failed to live up to his commitment of pursuing a united ANC – in the interest of all South Africans and Africans. The outburst outside the church was a symptom of the increasing anger many comrades are feeling towards him.
The brute show of force by the police raises more questions.
What exactly were Zuma and his organisers defending him from? Death threats? Detractors who are armed with unflattering songs and hand signals?
The fact remains that all the security in the country cannot protect Zuma from the threat he poses to his own ambitions for a second term. Through his unwillingness to listen to dissenting views, his apparent inclinations first towards those closest to him and his sidelining of his detractors he has made too many political enemies too soon.
It took the ANC almost a decade to reach the levels of frustration with Mbeki than what we are witnessing towards Zuma today – and this only 55 months into his term. And all the while Zuma's possible challenger, Motlanthe, has been quietly and diligently at work positioning himself as a leader who has the interest of the party at heart first and foremost ... as someone who has what it takes to save the party from implosion. He has been projecting himself as a leader who is willing to listen and advise instead of ignoring and sidelining.
On Wednesday Talk Radio 702 host John Robbie put a question to Motlanthe: Will there be blood on the walls at the conference in Mangaung in December, or will the ANC come right?
Motlanthe, who was speaking from the politically historical Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, which was once the headquarters of Umkhonto weSizwe and where Mandela and others were arrested before the Rivonia Trial, said: "We've got to come right. I don't think there's any choice other than to set things right."
Winnie slams ANC for not caring in scathing letter
10 Jul 2012 15:42 - Michelle Pietersen
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has accused the ANC, under President Jacob Zuma's leadership, of disrespecting the Mandela family.
Madikizela-Mandela was responding to a request from Luthuli House to meet with the family to discuss Tuesday's ANC centenary celebrations, which will see Zuma delivering a lecture on Nelson Mandela.
In email correspondence, addressed to ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu – which the Mail & Guardian has seen – Madikizela-Mandela said the family "rejected" the ANC's request for a meeting for a number of reasons but that "hundreds more" existed.
Madikizela-Mandela said in the past the ANC "never had any interest in celebrating Tata's [Mandela's] birthday except to gate crash on the family's arrangements" and that its attitude towards the family proved that "we do not matter at all".
"The family is still grappling with the most shabby treatment throughout the years, especially in Mangaung in January this year. As I indicated we are deeply hurt as the family. We did not even have a table and the situation was saved by Mrs Bridgette Radebe," wrote Madikizela-Mandela.
"No one has cared to establish how we are doing as a family. It is quite clear that we do not matter at all, we only do when we have to be used for some agenda," she said.
Madikizela-Mandela said she was "surprised" when the ANC approached her to be part of the centenary celebrations because "in 2011 when you were preparing for 2012, I was a spectator throughout".
"I was not deployed anywhere. I am the one person who has first information about the leaders you are celebrating. I would have even given you the song that was composed for that day," she wrote.
Madikizela-Mandela took issue with the fact that no official from Luthuli House was present when the centenary flame, which has been making its way around the country, was brought to her and that instead the national leaders left the job to the provincial leaders.
"It was clear that a certain faction fought for it to be brought to me. I am aware that [Arts and Culture] Minister Paul Mashatile, [who is also the ANC Gauteng chairperson] and Cde David Makhura [ANC Gauteng secretary] fought for it to be brought to me.
"Even more alarming was that the manner in which the centenary flame was brought to Tata left much to be desired.
"There was no parade of the soldiers as there was to me. It was clear that it was done for someone's ego, not to the family."
Madikizela-Mandela condemned the ANC for purporting to care about her well-being, when neither Zuma nor Mthembu visited her when she was hospitalised, let alone called her to wish her a speedy recovery.
"I have been in and out of hospital since January 25 this year, not even one phone call from Luthuli House. Instead you [Mthembu] gave an interview saying I was recuperating from an ankle operation when you did not even care what kind of an operation I had. I never had an ankle operation, I had a knee operation," she said.
Mthembu said the ANC would not comment on private correspondence between the party and the families of former presidents.
He said a representative of the Mandela family would be present during Zuma's lecture on Mandela on Tuesday, but refused to say whom. But the M&G understand that both Madikizela-Mandela and Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela have refused to attend.
Meanwhile, dozens of Zuma supporters have been bused in from KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga to Limpopo for the Mandela lecture on Tuesday.
The M&G has been reliably informed that Zuma's organisers have ensured the hall will be packed with ANC members sympathetic to his leadership and that his detractors from the hostile province, home to expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, will not be present.
En route to the lecture, just outside of Polokwane, the M&G spoke to delegates being transported in a minivan from KwaZulu-Natal. The delegates confirmed that they were handpicked by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial leadership to travel to the lecture to "support our president".
"We will not sing divisive songs. We are here to do our job and that's to support our president," said one ANC member, who asked not to be named.
The group of about 10 men said more buses were en route to the venue where Zuma was expected and that others were expected from Mpumalanga.
This is Zuma's first public appearance in the Limpopo province in months. He refused to attend the Limpopo provincial conference late last year, where Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale was re-elected to the position of ANC chairperson.
In the run-up to the conference, Zuma's ally ANC Mpumalanga chairperson David Mabuza had allegedly pumped millions of rands into the province to influence delegates to vote against Mathale to ensure that a leader sympathetic to Zuma was elected.
However, under Mathale and with the support of his political ally, Malema, the province has been at the forefront of pushing the campaign for Zuma to be replaced by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe at the party's elective conference in Mangaung in December.
Mthembu said it was not unusual for a party event to be attended by other provincial members.
"At any rate the ANC gets people from everywhere. Like the lecture in Gauteng was attended by members from KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and other places … To us it's not an issue as long as we have good cadres of the movement [at the lectures] … and that we don't have people [from one area] who overpopulate the lectures," he said.
Zuma was expected to deliver his Nelson Mandela lecture at 6pm on Tuesday.