Durban - The tables were turned on Julius Malema on Thursday when his election campaign in Durban was disrupted by rowdy ANC members, who tried to shut down a meeting with students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
This is the second time the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader has had a hot reception in the province. His visit to President Jacob Zuma’s village of Nxamalala in January was also disrupted and police had to intervene when ANC supporters clashed with Malema’s followers.
On Thursday, the EFF leader got a rude welcome at UKZN’s Howard College and in a rural area near Pinetown. In both cases ANC supporters ambushed the gatherings.
At Howard College a large group of ANC supporters wearing party T-shirts occupied a theatre where Malema was due to speak.
Before his arrival, ANC supporters shouted the party and Zuma’s praises, as EFF supporters in the theatre watched helplessly.
Police tried unsuccessfully to remove the ANC supporters, while a fuming Malema waited outside in a white Mercedes-Benz.
Later, he walked into the venue, where he was cheered by some and booed by others.
Police and Malema’s lieutenants manhandled ANC supporters in an attempt to throw them out.
Political analyst Zakhele Ndlovu, who teaches politics at the university, pleaded for calm.
“Please give this man a chance to talk,” he said.
“Let him engage you and you will be able to question him. We are here to learn politics.”
However, the disruption persisted, and Malema summoned his team and gave an order that the meeting be held outside the theatre.
Once outside, police and EFF marshals formed a human wall to prevent further disruption. Malema saw a man wearing an ANC T-shirt and pointed and repeatedly shouted: “Voetsek.”
Malema called the ANC supporters “Zuma’s cattle who have escaped from the expensive kraal”, and said they were disrupting his gathering because they were scared of the EFF.
He said Zuma had spent R1 million building a kraal instead of using the money to provide services. “But Cyril Ramaphosa (ANC deputy president) is worse. He spent R18 million buying a buffalo,” he said.
Malema criticised the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, saying students should reject it as it was creating huge debts for them.
He also called for racial tolerance, saying: “White people are our friends. Our fellow white Afrikaners are here with us. They have naturalised here in South Africa. Our policy is not to drive white people out of the country.
“We have now people who are married to different races. Why do you want to drive away other people’s partners?”
Malema then sped to rural Tafelkop outside Pinetown, where ANC supporters insulted him.
He told the community that his party would report the UKZN disruption to the police and the Independent Electoral Commission.
Continuing his attack on Zuma, he told residents: “Your children do not have shoes and clothes, but your president spent R2.8m building a pool. Worse, inside Zuma’s house there is a clinic which is used only by Zuma. Pregnant women have to drive 20km to get to a clinic.”
Political analyst Protas Madlala said he was not surprised by the disruptions. He predicted there would be more “skirmishes” and “confrontations” up until election day.