Eastern Cape - The role of expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema and his allies in recent violent strikes is tantamount to mutiny, the ANC in the Eastern Cape said on Wednesday.
It was a serious threat to the country's peace, security, and stability, provincial African National Congress spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane said in a statement.
The same went for moves by Malema and his allies to meet soldiers.
“With regards to his planned meeting with some of the members of the SA (National) Defence Force (SANDF), we regard this as an attempt to venture into mutiny.”
In South Africa, workers had the right to lodge grievances and embark on strikes, but these needed to be conducted within the ambit of the law, Qoboshiyane said.
The Eastern Cape ANC also wanted Malema to stop wearing clothes bearing the party logo because he was no longer a member of the ANC.
“When he appears on these international media platforms donning sartorial items with our logo, faces of our leaders, logos of our youth league, he damages the image, the reputation, and the dignity of the ANC domestically and abroad.”
The SA Security Forces' Union (Sasfu) expressed distaste at Malema's planned visit to soldiers on Wednesday.
Union president Bhekinkosi Mvovo said: “As Sasfu, we are opposed to any opportunism by Malema and the so called Friends of the Youth League in exploiting the vulnerability of the soldiers”.
Soldiers were vulnerable because their political leadership had failed to address there concerns.
“We therefore call upon the soldiers to be vigilant and not (to) allow (themselves) to be used by people who will not solve their plight.”
Political leaders should heed the warning by responding to soldiers' concerns.
“... We want to send a warning to the political leadership to stop ignoring the plight of the soldiers and understand that the military leadership is demoralising the soldiers on (a) daily basis,” Mvovo said.
Democratic Alliance defence spokesman David Maynier said Malema was exploiting soldiers for political gain.
However, it should not be forgotten that the SANDF service commission had described as “slum-like” the conditions at the Doornkop/Lenz military base, where the soldiers Malema would meet were stationed.
Malema's visit to the soldiers threatened to undermine the constitutional imperative that the military remain politically neutral.
As such, Maynier said any soldier who attended Malema's address should be disciplined.
He said Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was right to disapprove of Malema's intention to address the soldiers.
Earlier, Mapisa-Nqakula said in an SABC radio interview that Malema seemed bent on turning soldiers against the state.
“You can't just go on and on and on, and be going around mobilising funeral gatherings and agitating people to become ungovernable...
“It cannot be that we allow an ordinary citizen to stand up and want to instigate and want to agitate members of the SANDF, which is what has happened in Marikana, which is what has happened in the mining industry among those workers.”
This appeared to be a reference to Malema's address to mineworkers at Lonmin Platinum mine in Rustenburg, and more recently, his call to Goldfields' miners to strike until National Union of Mineworkers leaders stepped down.
Forty-five people have died at Lonmin mine in Marikana in labour unrest in the past month.
SA National Defence Union (Sandu) national secretary Pikkie Greeff said in a statement the union was not surprising that soldiers had invited Malema to listen to their concerns.
“ 1/8The 3/8 Commander in Chief 1/8President Jacob Zuma 3/8 has not lifted a finger to address 1/8the 3/8 dire situation of soldiers, nor even taken the time to visit their bases... to listen to their problems, concerns, and frustrations,” Greeff said.
In August 2009, more than 1000 soldiers defied a military and court order and embarked on a wage protest at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
The defence department accused them of failing to obey orders, and failing to dissociate themselves from a violent protest and mutiny.
Last week, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the department and internal disciplinary proceedings began.
Greeff said soldiers' situation had deteriorated since then and the situation within the military required decisive leadership.
Institute for Security Studies crime and justice programme head Gareth Newham said Malema appeared to be exploiting the perceived “leadership vacuum”.
“He is trying to send the message that Zuma is not providing sufficient leadership.”
It appeared he was trying to show that he was providing leadership “on the ground”.
“He can say, even our soldiers invited me to speak to them; Zuma is not looking after soldiers and he 1/8Malema 3/8 is stepping into that leadership vacuum.”
As soldiers represented state security, Malema's intention to address them could make for a volatile situation.
Malema would likely use his meeting with the SANDF to signal that “he is more dangerous outside the ANC than he is in the ANC”.
“You will notice, he doesn't attack the ANC itself, but specific people within the organisation,” Newham said.
The focus of his verbal attacks were often Zuma, and national executive committee member Cyril Ramaphosa, who chaired the National Disciplinary Committee of Appeal which finalised Malema's expulsion from the party.
Last month, Malema called for the resignation of Zuma and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa in the wake of the violence at Lonmin's Marikana mine.
On August 16, police fired on striking mineworkers, killing 34 of them. In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed.
“President Zuma decided over the massacre of our people. He must step down,” Malema said at Wonderkop.
He also said the reason police had shot at the miners was that they were trying to protect the interests of Ramaphosa who, he claimed, owned shares in Lonmin. - Sapa