Johannesburg - The DA has condemned the ANC's reaction to its plans to march on Luthuli House in Johannesburg, saying this amounted to a threat of violence.
Leader of the Democratic Alliance in Gauteng, John Moodey, said African National Congress spokesman Jackson Mthembu should retract his remarks on the matter.
“Mthembu’s remarks are reckless and irresponsible and he must retract them immediately,” said Moodey.
“Mthembu must also ensure that his party undertakes to guarantee that the DA’s constitutional right to gather and protest will be respected, and that the DA leader (Helen Zille) and supporters will be received peacefully.”
Zille said on Wednesday she would lead 6000 of her party's supporters in a march to Luthuli House in the Johannesburg CBD on February 4 to take the “fight for jobs” to the African National Congress.
She said each DA supporter would represent 1000 unemployed people.
“We are taking the fight to Luthuli House to highlight the failure of (President) Jacob Zuma's ANC to cut corruption and create jobs.”
Zille said the DA would expose the ANC manifesto pledge of creating six million job opportunities as “bogus”.
In response, Mthembu said the DA was provoking the ANC.
“What happens if our members come to protect Chief Albert Luthuli House? We should remind them what happened when they marched somewhere (Cosatu).”
Mthembu was referring to a DA march in 2012 to the Congress of SA Trade Unions' (Cosatu) office in Braamfontein.
Cosatu members threw stones at DA supporters as they made their way to the lawns of the Joburg (formerly the Civic) Theatre, 50m away from the trade union federation's office.
Riot police were called to the scene and tear gas and water cannons were fired.
Mthembu said the ANC did not want to be put in the same situation.
The ANC Youth League on Thursday also warned the DA not to march to Luthuli House.
“(This) will be a direct provocation of more than 400 000 members of the ANC Youth League who will defend it at any time of the day,” national convenor Mzwandile Masina said in a statement.
“Should the DA dare march to Chief Albert Luthuli House, they shall face the full anger of ANC Youth League members and the Progressive Youth Alliance.”
Masina made reference to the 1994 shooting at the ANC's Shell House headquarters. ANC security guards killed 19 Inkatha Freedom Party members following a tip-off that IFP marchers were planning to attack the building.
“We do not want the experience of the unfortunate... march to Shell House to repeat itself. It cannot be even imagined,” he said.
Moodey said it was unacceptable in a constitutional democracy for a political party to threaten those who challenged it on the basis of its policies.
“The ANC must ensure that its spokesperson retract these statements today and advise their members that any violence will not be tolerated.
“That is how responsible leaders lead their people,” he said.