ANC Youth League president Julius Malema has accused China of using South Africa to extract Africa’s wealth of mineral resources without offering anything in return.
South Africa’s foreign policy has shifted significantly in favour of China and is poised to become a member of the Bric economic grouping of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
But Malema, speaking in Cape Town on Friday night, also questioned South Africa’s participation in what will be known as Brics, saying he was yet to be convinced about the role South Africa would play in it.
“This advert that we are the gateway to Africa… must come to an end, because it is just making us vulnerable. People use us to get into Africa, take mineral resources raw as they are and leave SA or Africa. The Chinese are number one in doing that.”
The ANC-government needed to take a firm stand in its business dealings with China, Malema said.
“The good thing that we appreciate about the Chinese, some of us, is that we are able to engage with them politically. And politically we must be able to say to them that you are going to trade with us on condition you comply with our rules… but as things are now, we are not happy because they don’t just come and take our minerals raw as they are, they also bring labour.
“We are literally not getting anything out of Chinese involvement… At least with the colonisers they utilised our people, although the working conditions were not better – but these ones, they don’t give you even labour, they just open up a Chinese town on their arrival,” he said.
Malema was addressing about 100 members of the South African Jewish Students Union (SAJSU).
Malema was accompanied by right-hand man, league spokesman Floyd Shivambu.
Inside the synagogue, Malema and Shivambu joined the main table with Rabbi Eitan Bendavid and others for a two-course meal.
He spent just over an hour eating pumpkin pie and chatting and laughing with his hosts, who had invited him in the hope of cultivating a relationship between the two youth organisations.
During his address, Malema wasted no time in urging the Jewish community to vote for the ANC in the local government elections, saying a vote for any other party would be tantamount to reversing the gains made in the “country of Nelson Mandela”.
“The previous regime, the Jews weren’t favoured. They didn’t like you that much, they might have liked your colour… “(The ANC) government likes you. You are more than welcome in the ANC, Zionist, capitalist… and racists. Once you are inside we will educate you,” Malema said, to jeers and jibes.
Taking a swipe at the DA, which governs the Western Cape, he said: “The cabinet here looks like a boys’ choir. Women are not recognised, only through (the DA’s elections) poster.”
He called on the Jewish youth to join the league in the “struggle for the emancipation of our people” by nationalising mines and banks, warning the private sector that the league would not back down on its call for nationalisation.
“We are not going to do it the Mugabe way… We will engage in a decent way to ensure that we do not cause anarchy.
“It’s not going to be an unending debate, there must be an end – we are going to push you to come if you are not going to come willingly. We are going to push you through legislation – not by cutting (off) hands.”
The league planned to release on Tuesday its discussion document on “economic freedom in our lifetime”, Malema said.
“The role that China played in this African state, we can play as South Africa.
“China has not done that well here in SA because here we have a tight government and regulation and… it is not easy to bring a truck full of Chinese to come work here. In fact many are not happy that in SA the laws, especially the labour laws are too strict and tight. They know SA is not one of their playgrounds of the Chinese.”
On SA’s participation in Brics, Malema said the ANC leadership had yet to explain to the league what contribution South Africa would be making.
“We are just going to be swallowed up –we are just going to be a small country among the biggest population and economies and our contribution might be meaningless. I think perhaps this is just the latest development we must still be educated by our leaders of the country on really what the benefit of SA is in its participation in Brics.”