South Africa’s Zuma slaps down nationalist ANC youth wing

Pres. Jacob Zuma & ANC Youth leader Julius Malema

[More public, internal divisions in the African National Congress and its ruling alliance are revealing the growing conflict between the peace agreement made with international capital (ending the apartheid state) and the growing discontent and nationalist sentiments of the masses who have gained little from the deal.–ed.]

September 20, 2010

Johannesburg, Sep 20 (DPA): South African President Jacob Zuma Monday slapped down the nationalist youth wing of his African National Congress (ANC), telling a key party conference the Youth League’s conduct was “unacceptable”.  Zuma was addressing some 2,000 ANC delegates at the opening of a week-long party policy conference in the port city of Durban.

He wasted no time in putting the rebellious ANC Youth League in place, accusing the league of “regrettable” and “unacceptable” behaviour at a recent conference and reminding that the ANC, not its youth wing, was top dog.

Zuma also warned ANC members against launching a premature battle to replace him or his top lieutenants before the expiry of their current term in 2012.

The Youth League, which is headed by the notoriously outspoken Julius Malema, was one of Zuma’s staunchest allies in his campaign to become party leader in 2007. Malema vowed he was ready “to kill” for Zuma. In recent weeks, however, Malema has taken to openly attacking Zuma’s policies and suggested the Youth League may not support Zuma for a second term in 2012.

Zuma said that this premature jostling for power gave the “wrong impression” that people were “fighting for influential positions to advance personal interests” over the interests of the party. “Action must be taken against them,” he said.

The ANC’s National General Council is held every five years to review progress on the implementation of party policy and discuss new ideas. Given the ANC’s nearly two-thirds majority in parliament, party policy often becomes law. On the agenda at this meeting are controversial proposals to nationalise the country’s mines and tighten control of the media.

South Africa is the world’s fourth-largest producer of gold and number one producer of platinum. The ANC Youth League wants the mines nationalized – a proposal Zuma’s centre-right government has so far rejected.

The country’s main labour federation COSATU, which is part of the ANC-led ruling alliance, wants greater state intervention across the entire economy.

The delegates will also discuss the ANC’s proposal for a Media Appeals Tribunal that would try journalists accused of “getting it wrong”.

The media sees the tribunal as an attempt to clamp down on investigative journalism. The ANC says the current system of media self-regulation – in which a press ombudsman hears complaints and demands for retractions – does not offer the aggrieved parties enough redress.

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