Saturday, November 22, 2008

ANC not a happy camp(er)

ANC stalwart Kader Asmal has lambasted the ANC leadership for failing to act against ANC youth league leader Julius Malema.

He also accused the new ANC leadership of being part of the elite but trying to project itself as pro-poor.

“What is this pro-poor? Look at the composition of the NEC – there are millionaires, billionaires. What is the pro-poor policy?” he asked.

Asmal also described a recent statement by ANC president Jacob Zuma, about separating pregnant girls from their babies and sending them to faraway schools, as “macho and sexist”.

“What political parties who can’t handle fundamental issues do is become macho,” Asmal said. “So we will attack pregnant young girls at school rather than the men who impregnate them.”

Speaking to Sowetan from his hospital bed in Cape Town, Asmal said Malema was a member of the ANC national executive committee and national working committee.

He therefore “speaks for the ANC unless he is clearly repudiated and there is no evidence yet that he is being repudiated”.

“I am surprised that both the NEC and national working committee are not reining him in. And rein in means, in the end, take disciplinary action,” Asmal said.

The former ANC NEC member and minister said that by keeping quiet when Malema made his controversial statements, the party leadership was an accomplice in his errant behaviour.

“To attack a premier in the presence of the president of the ANC, what kind of arrogance is that? Silence there means complicity,” he said.

Asmal also hit out at the ANCYL Gauteng leader Jacob Kawe, who told a Swapo rally in Windhoek last month that opposition parties were cockroaches who should be destroyed.

He said his statement “is redolent [stinking] of genocide”.

“When you call people cockroaches, dead snakes or dangerous snakes, you are putting guns in peoples’ hands to kill or to destroy movements,” he said.

“It is very important that true members of the ANC reject these extraordinary statements.

“We must give up the idea that people like him [Malema] are kingmakers. There is no doubt that there are elements in the NEC who depend on the Young Communist League, ANCYL and other tendencies, to separate themselves from the others.

“Then, when the whole question of the list process takes place, you seem to be more vociferous, but being vociferous should never be associated with political insight or acumen.”

Asmal also did not have kind words for ANC national executive members Cyril Ramaphosa and Trevor Manuel.

They recently said even Nelson Mandela was difficult as a youth leader.

“It is gruesome to compare Malema with Nelson Mandela because [Mandela] never said you had to kill your opponents.”

Asmal also hit out at what he called “the militarisation of language” within the ANC.

“We have ‘kill, kill’ and ‘meet fire with fire’ as the new minister of safety and security [Nathi Mthethwa] said twice now.”

Asmal warned that Malema’s inflammatory statement last month that “under Mbeki the resources of the country were distributed to certain individuals and a certain tribe”, was “introducing tribalism for the first time in the ANC”.

“I mean Hitler arose in Germany by using populist so-called heroic language, the fascists do that, right? Stalin did that too, right? Stalin played tribalism, and it is very dangerous.

“Silence here is very dangerous.”

Malema has been the subject of bad publicity since his controversial statement last year that the ANC youth was prepared “to kill for Zuma”.

Earlier this week the ANC NWC released a statement accusing the media of running a campaign to belittle Malema.

But Asmal said the NWC was wrong to blame the media for Malema’s bad publicity woes.

“Idiotic populists depend on the oxygen of publicity.

“The more outrageous the statement the more publicity you get, which is a shame.”

He said it was “dangerous” for the ANC to allow “someone like Julius Malema to set the intellectual tone”.

Former president Thabo Mbeki’s climate “of intellectual intimidation” was totally wrong but the kind of statements being made by ANC leaders these days were “much worse”.

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