Pretoria – Clandestine meetings promoting regime change in South Africa were being held regularly at the United States embassy in Pretoria, African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Friday.
“As we mobilise our people, we must say be vigilant. You must see through anarchy and people who are out there in a programme of regime change. We are aware of the meetings taking place regularly at the American embassy,” Mantashe told thousands of ANC supporters at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
“Those meetings in the American embassy are about nothing else other than mobilisation for regime change. We’re aware of a programme that takes young people to the United States for six weeks, bring them back and plant them everywhere in the campuses and everywhere.”
He said “regime change elements” which gripped countries like Libya and Egypt have crept into South Africa.
Mantashe said “anarchists” have been given “so much rights” in South Africa, citing events in Parliament.
“They are making our Parliament a joke. Democracy is about us exercising our right of being the majority party. It can’t be that every time we take a decision in the legislature, it must go to the judiciary for ratification. I’m not attacking the judiciary but we are the majority,” said Mantashe.
“We must have the right to make decisions as that majority, and enforce them.”
The march on Friday, attended by thousands of ANC supporters, was a campaign against racism across South Africa.
“We are not in a protest march. We are in a march for building. It’s a positive march. We want to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society. We are not marching on ourself. We are mobilising society to appreciate that building the ideal South Africa is not an event, but a journey,” said Mantashe.
“Freedom on its own is not sufficient. What we achieved in 1994 was the beginning of a long journey, not the destination. We’ve not achieved economic freedom. That economic freedom required a united people. If we’re not united, the land reform will remain distorted. Poverty, inequality and unemployment is traceable to land hunger.”
Mantashe said South Africans need access to their arable land so that they are able to contribute to the nation’s food security.
“We must have access to land. Our people must have access to land,” he said.
“The question of food security cannot be left to the preserve of TAU-SA [Transvaal Agricultural Union SA], a racist farmers organisation.”
He said the current crop of farmers in South Africa “want to create an impression that food production is a preserve of white farmers only”.
“We can be farmers (too), but to be farmers we must have access to land. You can’t be be a farmer unless you farm. You can’t be a writer unless you write. You can’t be a politician unless you are active in politics. Why are we expected to be farmers without accessing the land? Let’s access the land,” said Mantashe.
Traffic was brought to a standstill in Pretoria central on Friday morning as the thousands marched from the Burgers Park in the city centre.
By midday, the protestors had arrived at the Union Building lawns, where loud music was being played from a public address system.
A high security perimeter fence separated the thousands who were clad in yellow ANC t-shirts from the party leadership including several government ministers, Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa, and Gauteng Premier David Makhura.
Many in the crowd were wearing yellow ANC t-shirts written “Hands off Zuma” and “Vote ANC”. Some were waving placards that said “Register to vote ANC”.
ANC national executive committee member Nomvula Mokonyane said it had been confirmed that more than 86 000 people attended the march on Friday.