ANC Youth League president Julius Malema has again blasted South Africa’s decision to vote in favour of UN Resolution 1973 giving Nato a mandate to establish a no-fly zone in Libya.
Addressing metalworkers who were protesting against Nato air strikes in that country, Malema said South Africa should have known that the “imperialist powers” would “go beyond the no-fly zone”.
“We should never have been party to that resolution because we know the only language they understand is war and weapons. We should have known that they would go beyond the no-fly zone and start killing innocent people.
“We must ask them one question: are you not tired of seeing blood every year?”
Malema described the US and France as bloodthirsty imperialists who could settle their differences only with war and were incapable of negotiating.
Hundreds of members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) picketed the US embassy in Pretoria and were addressed by leaders from Cosatu, the SACP and Numsa.
Malema, who was eagerly awaited by the protesters, stirred the crowd when he burst into song towards the end of the picket. He was mobbed after speaking.
He was annoyed when Elizabeth Trudeau, the embassy spokeswoman entrusted with receiving the workers’ memorandum, refused to go walk out of the embassy to receive it.
Malema and other Numsa leaders had to walk towards the gate and hand over the memorandum while Trudeau was guarded by policemen behind the gates.
Malema slammed the refusal of permission to the protesters to march to the French embassy. He warned he would return to Pretoria and would not need permission to march to the French embassy.
“You don’t want us to march on whose land?” he asked.
Malema said what was happening in Libya was sponsored violence as the rebels were being openly armed by the US and France.
The only way to solve the Libyan problem was through dialogue led by African leadership and which did not involve intervention by European powers.
The youth league leader reiterated his call for the nationalisation of mines. He also responded to a statement by SACP leader Blade Nzimande that Malema favoured the nationalisation of mines as this would bail out troubled black business.
“If the SACP believes we want to bail out black business, then let us have a nationalisation policy that will not allow bailouts for black businesses,” said Malema.
“Let us not concentrate on individuals and who said what. This is about the economic liberation of our people and the redistribution of the wealth of this country.”
Malema said the SACP and the youth league had no fundamental differences and shared the common values contained in the Freedom Charter. According to the Numsa memorandum handed over to the embassy, the campaign in Libya was motivated by the desire to maintain and protect US interests in Africa and the Middle East.
Numsa’s deputy general secretary, Karl Cloete, said the union demanded the immediate withdrawal of Nato forces from Libya and the unconditional withdrawal of UN Resolution 1973. He said the AU had to be given space to pursue a peaceful settlement without interference from outside the continent.
Cloete said workers had to understand that their struggle for a living wage and other issues in the workplace were fundamentally linked to broader struggles on the continent, including the battle against imperialism on African soil.
The picket caused minor disruptions to traffic flow on Schoeman and Pretorius streets.
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