June 16: ANC on high alert
There are plans to prevent President Jacob Zuma being heckled and booed when he addresses the Youth Day commemoration in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Sources in the ANC said yesterday there were measures to deal with a threat by disgruntled ANC Youth League members trying to "embarrass" Zuma after the expulsion of their former president, Julius Malema, from the party. Some in the youth league claim Zuma masterminded Malema's exit.
The Sunday Times has reported that it was decided to hold the Youth Day event in Eastern Cape after a tussle between Zuma's office and the National Youth Development Agency over which province would host the event.
A senior ANC member told The Times yesterday that anger in youth league structures had intensified after the special meeting of the ANC national executive committee on Monday that shut the door on Malema's campaign to rejoin the ANC.
"Anything is possible but there are plans to deal with those who are planning to embarrass the president," he said.
In February, youth league members heckled Zuma when he delivered an ANC centenary memorial lecture in Cape Town.
With the rift between the youth league and Zuma unresolved, security at tomorrow's event will be tight.
The commemoration, organised by the National Youth Development Agency, is expected to be an ANC, not a national, event. Other political youth formations say they have been snubbed.
Freedom Front Plus youth leader Wouter Wessels, DA youth leader Makashule Gana and a spokesman for Young Communist League chairman Buti Manamela said yesterday that they had been snubbed and not included in the event, despite some of them having received invitations to last year's commemoration.
Gana said it was unfair that the DA had not been invited because the day belonged to South African youth from all walks of life.
He said all political formations had been invited to Freedom Day celebrations.
"We must guard against this event being turned into an ANC rally. Next time, the programme should be open and made public so that we will know who gets invited.
"We hope no members of the ANC or the youth league were invited," Gana said.
Wessels said the Freedom Front Plus youth suspected they were not invited because they had criticised the youth development agency for "wasting" millions on a festival in 2010.