The ANC Youth League has called on the “oppressed and the exploited” to march on the Union Buildings, the Chamber of Mines and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange next month to “demand what rightfully belongs to them”.
“This serves as a clarion call to all economic freedom fighters that total liberation and emancipation of the oppressed and exploited people of South Africa will not only happen in boardrooms and conferences,” the league said, announcing its plans for two days of “rolling mass action”.
The march, scheduled to take place on October 27 and 28, forms part of the league’s calls for the nationalisation of mines, the expropriation of land without compensation, expansion of government services and free education and jobs for all.
“The (league) takes this approach of mass mobilisation, because of our strong conviction that the betterment of the people of South Africa’s lives will not happen in boardrooms and through some endless negotiations with capital.
“It is high time that we mobilise all South Africa’s youth and progressive forces to demand jobs and (an) equal share of wealth from big business and corporations who are benefiting at the expense and to the exclusion of the historically disadvantaged,” a league statement said.
Supporters have been urged to descend on downtown Joburg on October 27, where they will march on the Chamber of Mines to demand the nationalisation of South Africa’s mineral wealth.
From there, the league will march to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange “to demand an equal share in the country’s wealth, faster transformation of the economy and jobs for the unemployed youth”.
The league then plans to move to the Union Buildings where it will hand a memorandum of grievances to the executive, demanding free education, the end of labour broking, more jobs and better government services.
League leaders hope to attract 100 000 supporters to the event.
This comes after a stone-throwing mob of youth league supporters turned the streets of Johannesburg into a riot zone during last month’s appearance of its president, Julius Malema, on disciplinary charges at the ANC’s headquarters at Luthuli House.
Asked if he could assure South Africans that similar incidents would not occur during the march planned for October, youth league deputy president Ronald Lamola told e.tv on Wednesday that his organisation’s supporters “are the most disciplined members in society”.
He said the league would be calling for a “disciplined march” and that its members had shown during the fracas in Joburg last month that when the league’s leaders called for calm, the members tended to heed these calls.
Youth league supporters in Joburg ignored police demands for order last month, but appeared to calm down when Malema himself addressed the crowd.
Lamola blamed last month’s mayhem, which saw league supporters stoning the police and targeting journalists, on “agents provocateur who always invade marches” and he suggested these supporters would not be “jumping on dustbins” in the way “union members” had done in recent labour-related protest action in towns and cities across the country.
He said by contrast the league’s protest at Luthuli House was “the most peaceful march that day”.
It seems the league hopes to attract a broad spectrum of potentially disaffected or dissatisfied sectors of society to the event by “mobilising unemployed youth, underprivileged students, under-employed youth – such as waiters, petrol attendants, farmworkers and receptionists, landless people and people without water and electricity”.
In August 2009, a similar march on the Union Buildings by about 1 000 unhappy soldiers caused a dangerous stand-off between the soldiers and the police. Security services had to use rubber bullets, teargas and water cannon to disperse the crowd.
Cars were burnt during the protest action and soldiers tried to climb the fence surrounding the Union Buildings.
The Presidency was approached for comment on Wednesday, particularly in light of the previous chaos at the Union Buildings.
However, no response had been received by the time of going to print.
Asked if the league had the support of its mother body, the ANC, for the planned protest action, Lamola said the league “does not need anybody’s permission to make a youth revolution in this country”. - Political Bureau