Pityana incurs ANC's wrath while Malema is politely ignored
The Times Editorial: The Presidency has taken great exception to what it considered "unfortunate utterances" by former human rights activist Barney Pityana.
Speaking in Grahamstown, Pityana slated the ANC and President Jacob Zuma for their poor performance and conduct.
That the criticism smarted is very clear, given the swift rebuttal by presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj in an 845-word statement issued a day after Monday's speech.
Maharaj's defensiveness is neither new nor surprising. But what is surprising is the acceptance of Julius Malema's continued contemptuous baiting of Zuma.
Since being expelled from the ANC Youth League, Malema has consistently denounced Zuma as a weak leader unsuitable for re-election as ANC president.
He also portrayed Zuma as a man who should be answering fraud charges that were brought against him and later withdrawn.
In his court appearance yesterday, Malema said: "It is very strange that some political leaders, who are compromised and insisted that my arrest be expedited, are the ones who should respond to more than 700 charges of corruption, fraud and money-laundering."
Unlike Pityana's solitary speech in Eastern Cape, Malema has numerous public platforms to condemn not only Zuma, but also the ministers who serve in his cabinet.
Yet, for all his trademark tetchiness, Maharaj has remained silent - a supremely remarkable feat of self-restraint.
The ANC has obviously made a decision to ignore Malema, as if this would send a signal that his words have no impact whatsoever.
So how seriously can we take Maharaj when he chastises Pityana for stooping "way below dignified public discourse and intelligent engagement"? And how seriously should Pityana take Maharaj's invitation to "join [the] government in building a non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa"?