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SOLLY MAPHUMULO and Sapa
Tensions were mounting this morning ahead of an address by disgraced former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema to members of the SANDF in Lenasia, south of Joburg.
“The address is as a result of requests sent by the armed forces to Malema to come and listen to their cries and demands,” suspended ANCYL spokesman Floyd Shivambu said in a statement.
Shivambu said the soldiers’ complaints included being threatened with dismissal, and low salaries.
“Malema will listen to their demands and suggest solutions to end the unnecessary starvation and threats of dismissals to the soldiers,” he said.
But Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in an SABC radio interview this morning accused Malema of trying to turn 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,” she said, responding to Malema’s plans to address soldiers today.
“What are the consequences? I wish I knew. What I do know is that any responsible citizen in South Africa cannot associate him or herself with a person who wants to agitate and mobilise members of the SANDF against the state because they have concerns,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.
SANDF members should use the structures in place if they wanted to raise concerns, she said, adding that it was not clear in what capacity Malema would address the soldiers.
The minister said Malema had been “instigating people” in the past few weeks, in an apparent reference to his address to mineworkers at the volatile Lonmin platinum mine in Rustenburg, and, more recently, his call to Gold Fields miners to strike until National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) leaders step down.
“It cannot be that we allow an ordinary citizen to stand up and want to instigate and want to agitate members of the SANDF… It’s not acceptable, it is wrong. My view is that they are all… indications that this is counter-revolutionary, I’m sorry,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.
She warned soldiers attending today’s address that there would be consequences if they did not report for work today.
“People died for this freedom… people died for this country, it’s been very costly.
“I think it is too risky for anyone who wants to agitate members of the SANDF to turn against their own government because they have concerns – because effectively that is what it means. Judging by what he has been saying in the past few weeks, that is exactly what it means.”
This comes after Malema began targeting NUM.
Speaking yesterday at Gold Fields KDC mine in Carletonville, south of Joburg, Malema demanded that NUM secretary-general Frans Baleni quit for failing striking miners.
Escalating his “mine revolution”, Malema wanted miners to strike for a week every month, as part of a national strike, until NUM fires Baleni.
He accused NUM of stealing gold from the poor miners and making billions as shareholders in the mines.
Baleni and NUM are among those who back President Jacob Zuma’s bid for a second term. He is expected to be challenged by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, whom Malema supports.
Speaking to about 15 000 miners, Malema urged them to protest five days a month until their demands for a R12 500 salary hike were met. He also turned on ANC national chair Baleka Mbete, seen as a Zuma ally, saying she was part of the problem as she had shares in Gold Fields. Mbete could not be reached for comment.
NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka dismissed Malema’s claims against Baleni as “fallacious’’, and Cosatu condemned his call for the NUM leader’s sacking as “irresponsible”.
Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said:
“This can only inflame tensions within the mining industry, flames which he is incapable of quenching.”
Last night the SABC effectively muzzled Malema by killing a scheduled radio interview with him.