Malema dares Zuma

12 April 2010 - 00:20 By DOMINIC MAHLANGU

A defiant Julius Malema said he was ''shocked'' at the public rebuke he has received from President Jacob Zuma, saying even former ANC leader Thabo Mbeki never behaved in such a manner.

Speaking at the end of the two-day ANC Youth League provincial conference in Makhado, Limpopo, Malema said Zuma should have addressed him in private rather than go public with his criticism.

''...I was shocked by what happened . . . even president [Thabo] Mbeki, having differed with the youth league and the youth league taking such firm radical positions against him, I have never seen him doing that before,'' Malema said.

Zuma called a press conference to publicly chastise Malema after the youth leader openly defied the ANC. The president berated Malema for his comments after his recent Zimbabwe trip, his statements on the murder of AWB leader Eugene Terre Blanche, and his verbal abuse of a BBC reporter.

Emphasising that the youth league was not ''an independent body'', Zuma took issue with Malema's defiance of the ANC leadership's instruction to stop singing the ''Shoot the Boer'' song.

Zuma said ''there must be consequences for such behaviour''. He said the ruling party would hold an internal investigation to look into Malema's actions and utterances and ascertain whether he should face disciplinary action.

''We reiterate that leaders should think before they speak, as their utterances have wide implications for the country," he said.

But Malema said he was surprised that the president had taken offence at his visit to Zimbabwe. He said that when he and the youth league delegation left South Africa, Zuma had told them to send his greetings to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

Malema said: ''I didn't sneak out of the country. President Zuma, when I was going to Zimbabwe, said I must pass his regards to Mugabe. I did that. We had blessings from President Zuma to go to Zimbabwe.

'' ... From where I am sitting, I was never told the youth league must never, ever relate with Zanu-PF Youth or Zanu-PF.''

Zuma, who is the SADC's mediator in Zimbabwe, is spearheading efforts to salvage the embattled unity government. Last week Malema publicly endorsed Mugabe's Zanu-PF and took a swipe at the opposition MDC.

Although Malema took issue with Zuma publicly dressing him down, he said the youth league would "engage"' the president.

''The president has the responsibility to rein all of us in and say whatever he wants to say, but we are there in the structures. We will engage him," Malema said.

Malema is expected to face four charges at his ANC disciplinary hearing.

They include:

  • Defying a High Court ruling banning the singing of the struggle song Dubul' ibhunu;
  • Defying the national executive committee ruling on the public comments and behaviour of ANC members and leaders;
  • Interfering in and undermining the Zimbabwe peace process by siding with Zanu-PF and verbally attacking the MDC; and
  • Launching verbal attacks on journalists.

Malema said he would honour the ANC's call not to sing the controversial anti-Boer song by modifying it and using the words ''shoot the coward''.

But Malema is also facing a simmering rebellion from within the ranks of the youth league.

At the youth league's conference in Limpopo at the weekend, some party delegates said that they would not recognise Malema's winning candidate, Frans Moswane, after they were forced out of the event by Malema's supporters.

Delegates who supported Lehlogonolo Masoga said the election of Moswane, a Malema candidate, was not democratic.

"We are tired of the dictatorship of Malema," a delegate reportedly said.