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Mosiuoa Lekota has labelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema a "child soldier" whose paths of destruction have left mayhem across the African continent.
In a hard-hitting speech in Somerset West last night, the COPE leader warned that Malema could not simply be written off as a "boy" or a "joke".
Lekota said Malema's political intolerance - including statements that he would "kill for Jacob Zuma" - showed the ANC's descent into iron-fisted authoritarianism.
Speaking about Malema, Lekota said: "The so-called child soldiers are the instruments used to sow destruction and death across Africa.
"Malema says that 'If you do not do what we say then we will take up arms and kill you'.
"And you still want us to think of Malema as just a joke?" Lekota warned. "Think about it."
He claimed that Cope meetings were routinely broken up by ANC members. "That is the type of behaviour you found in the old Soviet Union - where no one was allowed to hold meetings except the ruling party."
He cited police union Pop-cru's affiliation with Cosatu, which was an ally of the ANC, as a danger which would lead to a partisan police force, in bed with the ruling party - which could be especially dangerous during elections, as witnessed disastrously in Zimbabwe.
Lekota said that while defence minister he had in-sisted, as was his right, that soldiers' unions not affiliate and could thus not be politically aligned.
He said it was imperative for South Africa's entire public service to be depoliticised.
Asked why he had only broken away from the ANC 15 years after 1994, Lekota said that it had taken time to witness the ANC's failure to meet its election promises.
Similarly, it was only after 1994 that ANC certain leaders has showed their corrupt and anti-constitutional tendencies.
"After 15 years, we have now seen the outlines of an evil society," he warned.
Lekota also warned that SA would become a "failed state", like countries across Africa, if the ruling ANC was allowed to "smash" the constitution, as it appeared to be willing to do to protect Zuma from the law.
Lekota said numerous African countries had descended into anarchy because their ruling parties had failed to make the switch from being liberation movements to parties which governed responsibly.
He said the ANC's failure to modernise included continuing to place struggle heroes in positions they simply did not have the skills for - 15 years after liberation.
"The masses do not eat history, they do not drink history, they do not sleep in history," Lekota said.
A skills failure and corruption were why there had been an outbreak of cholera re-cently, because of the lack of clean, processed water.
In a possible reference to Zimbabwe's land seizures, Lekota said commercial farmers were highly skilled and without them the country's food supplies would dry up.
"Farms do not just run automatically," he warned.
Lekota repeated his controversial statements about affirmative action, saying the country urgently needed the best person for the job, regardless of colour, culture or language.