The Mercury

Malema praises Mbeki as fight erupts

- Nompumelel­o Magwaza and Sapa

IN A surprise move, ANC Youth League president Julius Malema has heaped praise on former president Thabo Mbeki, saying he was one of the best cadres produced by the ANC.

Addressing a youth league provincial general council meeting in Polokwane on Saturday, Malema praised Mbeki saying he was one of the best cadres “we produced as the movement of the ANC’’. Malema praised Mbeki’s intellect and for making it possible for the ANC to get a two-thirds majority in elections.

Malema, who played a part in Mbeki’s removal from power, said the former president had made two mistakes: he had been intolerant of others’ views and had pursued a third term as ANC president.

“Other than that, president Mbeki was one of the best cadres we produced as the movement of the ANC. We must never be jealous of president Mbeki; that man is intelligen­t, that man is (gifted),” he said.

In an indirect attack on ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, who blamed Malema for chasing away white voters from the ANC, he said whites hated Mbeki passionate­ly because they saw him as Africanist. “Even when they did not vote for president Mbeki, we got a two-thirds majority under him without their vote, so what are you talking about?”

Malema denied that his fiery speeches had cost the ANC the votes of whites in the local government elections and also denied calling whites criminals.

Meanwhile a fist fight broke out inside the Durban city hall on Saturday as ANC Youth League members debated who would be elected league president on June 24. Two members opened cases of assault against each other yesterday.

The fight, during the league’s provincial general council, was believed to be caused by divisions over which of Malema, the incumbent president, and Gauteng youth league leader Lebogang Maile should be elected leader.

Although the league in KwaZulu-Natal pledged its support for Malema, some members wanted the province to back Maile.

Sifiso Mngadi said he had opened an assault case after being attacked for displaying a poster reading “Bring back the culture of respect into our beloved movement”.

“The party is being looked at as a very arrogant and disrespect­ful organisati­on. I was raising the issue of discipline among leaders.”

He had also asked the league to discuss the issue of nationalis­ation, which the league wants accepted as ANC policy, but it was clear that the league’s leader wanted to impose this on its members.

Other members, who would not be named for fear of being victimised, said Malema was turning the party into a Zanu-PF.

“There is no democracy. We have been told that if we vote for Maile, we will not see the national congress,” said one.

According to the declaratio­n statement from the weekend meeting, the KZN ANCYL will support Malema for re-election as president and he will lead the league into the ANC’s national conference in 2012.

Mngadi said many people wanted to vote for Maile, but were afraid to voice their preference­s.

Xolile Dlamini said the KZN ANCYL leadership had chased them out of the council for nominating Maile as a candidate.

“Some of us want Maile and other people for the executive committee, but we were toldwe are not going to see the national congress if we do not agree with the rest. We view this as intimidati­on.”

He said people were tired of Malema’s racists comments.

While the council was still in progress, some disgruntle­d youth league members, who said they had been chased out of the meeting, were seen outside the city hall with posters reading “We are a silenced majority inside” and “Bring back the culture of respect into our beloved movement of Anton Lembede”.

League provincial chairman Mthandeni Dlungwane said he was surprised that people claimed to have been beaten. He was later seen at Durban Central police station, where two youth league members had been taken by the police.

Police Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge said two members of the party had opened common assault cases against each other.

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