South Africa’s ANC youth clash with communists, factionalists
The youth wing of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress said the party must be defended against communists, heightening tensions within the alliance that swept President Jacob Zuma to power.
“Members of the ANC and ANC Youth League are called upon to rise and defend the African National Congress against the pressure group and factionalists masquerading as communists,” the ANC Youth League said in an e-mailed statement today.
Tensions between the ANC Youth League and the South African Communist Party, or SACP, intensified last week after Julius Malema, president of the ruling party’s youth arm, was heckled by delegates at a SACP national conference. The ANC rules in alliance with the SACP and the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the country’s biggest labor federation.
Communist Party leaders approved of the heckling because they think the ANC Youth League doesn’t support a bid by SACP General Secretary Blade Nzimande to become deputy president of the ANC in 2012, the ANC’s youth wing said today.
“We will not engage with the leadership of the Communist Party until its leadership condemns the behavior of the delegates at the special national congress for booing the leadership of the ANC,” the statement said.
SACP leaders also wanted to undermine Malema because they believe that the Youth League won’t support a bid by SACP Chairman Gwede Mantashe to stay on as secretary general of the ANC for a second term in 2010, the statement said. The Youth League added that it will “decide on the leadership of the ANC when the time is right.”
SACP spokesman Malesela Maleka said he couldn’t immediately comment on the statement. The Young Communist League said in an e-mail that rather than “insolence,” the youth needs “leadership and hope.” It will “engage with Malema as and when he is prepared to embark on programs” that help to improve the lives of young people, the group said.
The public spat between the two groups broke out on Nov. 18 after SACP Deputy General Secretary Jeremy Cronin, a deputy transport minister, questioned Malema’s calls on nationalizing the country’s mines, saying it wouldn’t solve South Africa’s high unemployment and poverty. Malema, who is Black, responded by calling Cronin a “white political messiah” representing “fake-left forces.”
The ANC Youth League said today that Cronin has a “superiority complex” and is opposed to nationalizing mines to “protect the interests of white monopoly.”
The Youth League’s response comes two days after Zuma spoke to delegates at the SACP conference, appealing for the political alliance to be protected.
“We must engage each other with dignity, honesty and with respect,” Zuma said. “The public outbursts and acrimonious exchanges are not in the tradition of the alliance.” By Nasreen Seria/Bloomberg/Dec14, 2009/