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ANC's 'show' of unity unlikely to end the Malema siege

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2012-04-04 00:05:25.0

The Times Editorial: As ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe started addressing a press conference yesterday, he was quick to say it was business as usual, that the briefing was just like any other.

But yesterday was not business as usual - in the context of recent insulting comments about the top leadership of the ruling party.

In February, ANC Youth League members attempted to disrupt a Cape Town lecture delivered by party president Jacob Zuma.

Later, the league's president, Julius Malema, went as far as calling Zuma a dictator, publicly mocking him and openly throwing his support behind the party's deputy president, Kgalema Motlanthe.

Yesterday, the ANC's top six appeared at Luthuli House as a united front to dispel the notion that the party was divided.

But even as they sat down - Motlanthe flanking Zuma and exchanging occasional quiet words and jokes - it is difficult to accept that the Malema rebellion has not wrought serious damage as the party prepares for its elective conference in Mangaung in December.

It is also clear that Zuma must be desperate to stop the avalanche of negative sentiment that is coming from within his party, directed at him. How is he to position himself for a second term with former allies openly mocking him?

If he is to stand any chance in Mangaung, Zuma will quickly have to assert himself within the party and put a stop to the internal tension and public dissent. Until now, he has hidden behind the rhetoric of good cadre behaviour and allowed the party's internal disciplinary processes to deal with Malema.

Will the show of unity yesterday halt the barrage of insults and disrespect from Malema? Not likely.

Malema faces suspension from the party and perhaps suspects that he will not be given any second chances by the current leadership.

He has nothing to lose.

As the senior ANC leadership tries to put an end to the Malema siege, many can't help but feel Zuma's chickens have come home to roost.

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