ANCYL march ends peacefully
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The ANC Youth League's two-day march for economic freedom ended peacefully at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Friday.
“We are not fighting government, we want more. We want job creation to be doubled,” ANCYL president Julius Malema told reporters at the conclusion of the march.
“You cannot compare our government to the government of Egypt and Tunisia. If you march it doesn't mean you don't love the ANC.”
Over the two days, the marchers handed over memorandums to the Chamber of Mines in the Johannesburg CBD, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in Sandton, and to government at the Union Buildings.
The demands centred on the economy, poverty and high youth unemployment.
Estimates of how many people joined the two-day march that began in the Johannesburg CBD on Thursday ranged from 2000 to 10,000.
“People say the numbers are too small,” said Malema, wearing a yellow ANC-branded t-shirt bearing the image of former president Nelson Mandela.
“Those people who say that can't even organise 20 people for a birthday. Thank you all. Numbers stand at 25,000 people.”
Chaos erupted in the last mass action by ANCYL members outside Luthuli House in central Johannesburg at the start of Malema's disciplinary hearing last month.
Youth league members threw rocks, bottles and bricks at journalists and police, and burnt ANC flags and t-shirts with pictures of President Jacob Zuma printed on them.
In contrast, the two-day economic march went off without any reported incidents.
Tshwane Metro Police said they were satisfied.
“Only two cases of minor exhaustion were reported and the people received treatment from the Tshwane emergency services and were later fine,” said spokesman Console Tleane.
Malema kept tight control of marchers over the two days, admonishing them when fights broke out over cooldrink and urging schoolchildren not to join, but to get back to school.
At the conclusion of the march, he told the crowd: “Yesterday was OR Tambo's birthday, the longest serving president of the ANC. In his spirit, let's leave peacefully.”
The weary crowd quietly dispersed, encouraged by the turning on of the sprinklers on the Union Buildings' littered lawn.
The march started a day after testimony in Malema's disciplinary hearing was concluded.
He and several co-leaders face charges of bringing the ruling party into disrepute.
The march covered around 80km, of which Malema said he walked 35km.
Newly-appointed Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi accepted the document handed over in Pretoria and promised to take it to the “relevant structures” of government for a response in due course.
Some sang “Kgalema's my president”, referring to Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
Placards carried read: “Black on black apartheid”, “greed-based corruption” and “yes we don't want Zuma and Gwede”, referring to President Jacob Zuma and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe.
Others read: “90 percent of the economy is still in the hands of the minority” and “Malema we must stand by you through thick and thin”.
On Thursday, Chamber of Mines CEO Bheki Sibiya received the ANCYL memorandum and undertook to distribute it to the chamber's 55 members.
“We understand that the level of unemployment is too high and we agree with the youth league that the level of poverty is too high,” he said.
The league wanted the nationalisation of mines and the introduction of probation programmes within companies to give youth skills in mining.
When the group reached the JSE, Malema chanted: “Down with white capital monopoly. The people who are stealing our wealth must come on stage.”
An official from the JSE received the memorandum from Malema, saying only: “Thank you for the opportunity. We will take your demands to the executive.”
Among the league's demands to government, was a call to amend section 25 of the Constitution which protects private property against arbitrary expropriation and allows for compensation.
The league's memorandum said all productive land should be nationalised and leased, and neighbourhoods electrified.
Labour brokers must be banned and all vacant government posts be filled.
A state bank must be established and foreign policy must be changed to isolate countries that threaten South Africa's sovereignty.
A fund must be established to send 10,000 students to the best universities. - Sapa