Johannesburg - The ANC Youth League has declared war on anyone threatening to disrupt this week’s State of the Nation Address (Sona), vowing to defend President Jacob Zuma at all costs.
An ironic twist, it now sees EFF leader Julius Malema, who once vowed to kill for Zuma, as the target for attack in defence of the president.
ANCYL president Collen Maine sneered at EFF's commander-in-chief for his threats to disrupt Parliament on Thursday.
The EFF has said it would share the Sona with Zuma if he did not answer questions relating to his unceremonious axing of Nhlanhla Nene in December.
The DA has also joined the fray, saying it also demands answers on the same issue, and the #ZumaMustFall campaign said it would also be in Parliament.
Maine said the league would fight racists in the country.
“We have declared war on racists and those who are attacking the ANC and President Zuma. The message must be clear that Zuma will continue to lead the ANC until 2017, and the country until 2019,” Maine said, addressing ANCYL members during a rally at a packed Giant Stadium in Soshanguve, Pretoria, on Sunday.
The rally was themed Kgalemela Lenyatso, a Setswana phrase implying exerting one’s authority. Speakers included Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, and ANC Gauteng leader and newly appointed Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Paul Mashatile.
Maine told the crowd National Assembly Speaker and ANC chairwoman Baleka Mbete need not hire security guards, as the ANCYL was ready for anything with regard to disturbances posed by opposition parties.
He said members of the youth league were prepared to physically remove anyone seeking to disrupt proceedings in Parliament. Zuma is scheduled to deliver his address at 7pm on Thursday.
“Those who seek to disrupt the State of the Nation must prepare themselves for a civil war... The youth league will physically remove woodworkers from parliament. We cannot allow Julius Malema and his monkeys to run our country amok and turn this country into a banana republic,” said Maine.
He also applauded Zuma for appointing a commission on the possibility of free education.
Mthethwa, meanwhile, told the rally that South Africa was no place for racists. He singled out former president and the last apartheid ruler FW de Klerk as a racist.
“De Klerk is the last person to lecture us on democracy and racialism. He only released Nelson Mandela from prison because of the mass mobilisation of our people,” Mthethwa said.
“It is that mass mobilisation that we want in this year’s municipal elections because Tshwane, the city of power, belongs to the ANC and no other political party.”
Mashatile urged the youth, whom he said constituted 40 percent of the national population, to take charge of the fighting for free education.
“We cannot allow opportunists to hijack a cause that has always been a call of the ANC from the beginning and run with it like it is their own. We must occupy the terrain of all university campuses in the country,” Mashatile said.
He said it would be the same percentage of the youth that would guarantee that the ANC won all municipalities in the elections this year.
“The opposition claim that they are set to take Tshwane and Johannesburg, but let us show them there will be no such take-over. The ANC will be keeping all the municipalities without a doubt. Victory is certain,” he said.
The programme was delayed as security personnel struggled to keep the large crowd that had painted the stadium in ANC colours in check. Some supporters jumped over a fence to get a glimpse of Mashatile, who returned to the provincial cabinet fold last week.
On Sunday night, EFF spokesman tweeted: “Please tell #NtateMaine that all we hear is a toothless mouth, filled only with a poisonous snake forked tongue defending the #Zuptas”.