Cape Town - The tables have been turned on the man who famously vowed to “die” and “kill for” President Jacob Zuma with calls being made for his own death by members of his former party.
In June 2008, former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema declared: “We are prepared to die for Zuma. We are prepared to take up arms and kill for Zuma.” On Wednesday ANC supporters sang outside Parliament: “Dubula uMalema” (shoot Malema), according to several reports.
There was tight police security at Parliament after about 200 ANC members arrived at the National Assembly – a week after Malema confronted Zuma during question time last week, demanding he “pay back the money” – a reference to the R200 million-plus which the state spent on security and other upgrades to Zuma’s private home at Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal.
The riot police were called and Speaker Baleka Mbete adjourned the House for the day.
On Wednesday, the ANC crowd queued at the gate to Parliament, and reportedly vowed to defend the ANC from the EFF – ostensibly against any potential repeat of Malema’s antics last week.
EFF national spokesman Mbuyiseni Quintin Ndlozi confirmed on Wednesday night that ANC supporters had called for his leader to be shot.
“We heard it outside Parliament’s visitors’ centre – and that’s what they were brought to do.
“But we are not shocked, we are not surprised – it’s consistent with the wishes of the ANC – that we should be shot. That’s why (ANC secretary-general Gwede) Mantashe wants Parliament to be moved north – because he wants the EFF to disappear,” Ndlozi said.
“The ANC must live with the reality that the EFF is in Parliament both by law and popular will. Organising the police, military or any hooligans to deal with us will not work. They must come face us themselves in the benches of Parliament through robust discourse. They must stop protecting the executive, avoiding accountability and running away from questions and hiding behind hooligans,” said Ndlozi.
“The ANC is handling a public relations nightmare which they created themselves. The ANC knows that Zuma has not answered the question, has not taken responsibility.”
He argued that the police had last Thursday “correctly refused to take political instruction (against the EFF MPs in Parliament) – like they did at Marikana (the site of the massacre on the mines)”.
“In the rest of the country, that’s what the police do – take political instruction from the ANC.”
But because the police had not done so in Cape Town last week, “now (ANC secretary-general Gwede) Mantashe wants to move Parliament,” Ndlozi claimed.
Asked about the EFF’s response to public songs for Malema to be “shot”, he said: “We are not moved.”
Nor would the the party take any legal action – “we are not going to solve political problems in a court”.
Asked if EFF MPs were scared, he said: “Ha! We are fearless. We are not called fighters for nothing.”
But the ANC hit back, describing the EFF’s charge of intimidation as “laughable and desperate”, in the words of the governing party’s chief whip Stone Sizani.
“Such a claim can only be an invention of an overzealous imagination and an uncreative publicity strategy probably aimed at diverting attention from real acts of hooliganism that took place in Parliament last Thursday,” Sizani said in a statement.
“Mobilising supporters and MPs to cause chaos in the institution is a dirty modus operandi for which the EFF, not the ANC, is infamous and proud,” Sizani alleged.
Speaker Mbete on Tuesday said she was considering the suspension of EFF MPs after they disrupted Zuma’s question session.
But Malema said Mantashe’s response was to speed up the process to move Parliament to Pretoria because he says the police in the Western Cape belonged to the opposition. “Why? Because he believes in giving political instructions to the police. In Gauteng, the police will respond to political instructions… The leadership is predominantly black. In Cape Town the police are generally white… They know the law. They know when to intervene and when not to.”
Malema said freedom of speech was guaranteed in Parliament and concluded that the ANC-led government called in the police as they, “for the first time in history”, have to deal with a real opposition party.
In her report on the R246m spent on security upgrades at Nkandla, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Zuma should repay all non-security-related expenses at the controversial resort-like estate.