In an emotional appeal, ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema has urged hundreds of supporters to vote for the ruling party in the coming local government elections to prevent an ailing Nelson Mandela’s condition from deteriorating.
Malema’s arrival at the Nangoza Jebe Hall in New Brighton on Wednesday afternoon saw him greeted by a toyi-toying crowd brandishing handwritten placards appealing to him to intervene in disputes over the ANC’s candidate selection in their wards.
He deftly defused tensions by asking the protesters to bring their placards – made from torn cardboard boxes – to him so that he could read their demands and address them, a move that was met with cheers all round.
Malema was in the city to deliver a lecture commemorating the anniversary of the hanging, under apartheid, of Struggle hero Solomon Mahlangu, who has been taken up by the league as symbolic of its call for a greater “generational mix” in ANC structures.
Echoing a call by Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi earlier this week, Malema begged his audience to vote for ANC candidates and not for disgruntled party members who had registered to contest the May 18 polls as independents, to prevent the ANC-run Nelson Mandela Bay Metro from falling into the hands of the DA.
“If you don’t work hard, you’ll lose this municipality.
“If you want to be like Cape Town and vote for a party which is going to build open toilets for you, do that,” he said, a reference to the much-publicised – and politicised – erection of unenclosed toilets by the DA in Makhaza, Khayelitsha.
“If you want the metro to be divided along racial lines, vote for the DA. If you want to disappoint the ancestors of the ANC, vote against the ANC,” Malema said.
“When you put a cross (on election day) there are two things you must see.
“The first line of the cross you must say ‘happy birthday’ Walter Sisulu (whose birth date was May 18), the second cross you must say, get well Madiba, because you are doing it for the ANC.
“President Mandela is sick and you don’t want to contribute to a worsening condition of Mandela by not voting ANC. President Mandela will never endure if the ANC is out of power,” Malema said.
The 2009 national and provincial elections saw support for the ANC drop to 51 percent in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, mainly because ANC members left the party after former president Thabo Mbeki’s sacking and the formation of the breakaway party Cope.
Malema chastised those fighting over positions when Mahlangu had laid down his life for a liberated South Africa.
“Me and you play with this freedom as if it came cheap.
“We play with these positions as if people did not die for this freedom. We want to die for positions,” he said.
Unhappiness over the list process – thrown open for the first time by the ANC for communities, rather than the party alone, to decide on candidates – has seen ANC members assaulting each other and the arrest of some ANC members in the province on charges that they planned to assassinate party provincial and regional leaders because of dissatisfaction over chosen candidates.
Malema said people should deal with the problem by voting those who had tampered with candidate lists out of their leadership positions in the party.
“No matter how unhappy you are, no matter how angry you are, you can’t act against the ANC because the ANC has never made a mistake. It is individuals who are making mistakes,” he said.
He scolded those who tampered with the party’s lists “to suit a clique or a faction. You must be ashamed of yourself”, he said.
Malema urged people to unite behind the ANC for the sake of the memory of Mahlangu and slain SACP leader Chris Hani, whose assassination will be commemorated on Sunday.
“Even if you are angry, don’t go outside the ANC. You must remain in the ANC. This is your home,” Malema said.
With reference to DA leader Helen Zille and the opposition party’s apparently well-oiled election machinery, Malema said, to great amusement: “This is a critical moment. We always see ugly people on TV jiving, doing elections, as if we cannot do election work.
“Every day instead of showing us campaigning, they (the media) show us fighting. I know how angry you are,” he said. IOL News