GAYE DAVIS and BABALO NDENZE
JULIUS Malema has accused President Jacob Zuma of hijacking the ANC Youth League’s economic freedom campaign by dressing it up in the clothes of a “second transition”.
“It’s as if I was expelled (so that Zuma) could shine on the issues we have raised,” he said.
“My only regret was to campaign for Zuma – and I apologise dearly.”
The expelled youth league leader made these statements yesterday as delegates to the ANC’s policy conference roundly rejected the idea after devoting much of the past two days fiercely debating it.
Members of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC), its leagues and branches told The Star that each of the 11 commissions that spent much of Tuesday and all of yesterday discussing the state of the ANC and the second transition proposal had rejected it.
It is still too early to say if this reflects a significant shift in the balance of forces within the ANC, or to what extent it dents Zuma’s chances of re-election for a second term in Mangaung in December – where he faces a possible challenge from his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe.
Six of the ANC’s nine provinces had rejected the idea of a second transition before coming to the conference. Motlanthe himself had also questioned its premise, while insisting he was only doing so in the spirit of debate.
Zuma himself appeared to prepare the ground for the possible defeat of the notion when he told journalists on Tuesday its rejection would not signify a blow to any individual, as it had been endorsed by the ANC’s NEC – and would thus be a case of the movement failing “the poorest of the poor”. He blamed the media for creating the “hype” that tried to make the second transition a proxy leadership debate.
Malema said the only way for Zuma to remain relevant “was to address the economic challenges confronting our people, a matter he has been denying.
“We raised the issue of white males controlling the economy, but we were called racist. (Now) he is repeating it,” he said in a reference to Zuma’s remarks at the start of the conference on Tuesday that ownership of the economy remained largely in white men’s hands.
Malema said it was the league that had first raised many of the issues Zuma had referred to in his speech. And it was the league’s economic freedom campaign that called for the nationalisation of the mines and other economic sectors, and the expropriation of land without compensation.
He said Zuma was “not acknowledging that these views were raised by the youth league”.
Earlier this month, Zuma shut the door on any chances of Malema’s expulsion being reviewed by the NEC. While being given platforms by the Friends of the Youth League, Malema has suffered from a lack of the oxygen of publicity while navigating the political wilderness.
Malema told The Star there was no need for a second transition as “the Freedom Charter and the national democratic revolution… seek to attain economic power”.
He added: “We know it seeks to address fundamentally three issues, but we can’t say we’re done with political (transformation), we are not moving to economic or social (transformation). They go together. To wake up in the morning and announce you are now in a second transition, like you’re announcing the second birthday of a child, is politically incorrect and lacks ideological clarity.”
Zuma’s allies said the rejection of the second transition idea had “nothing to do with Zuma’s chances at Mangaung”.
Malema’s comments, they added, were a bid to “throw stones”.
The Star understands that delegates found it a step too far to ditch the document adopted at the ANC’s 2007 Polokwane conference, where Zuma was elected, and which spelt out the need for fundamental social and economic change to deal with poverty, inequality and unemployment.
ANC policy chief Jeff Radebe told journalists yesterday that part of the debate had been whether a new strategy and tactics document – the movement’s policy compass – was needed at all.