Solidarity: A small group of Julius Malema supporters arrive at Beyers Naud� Square, adjacent to Luthuli House, in the Joburg CBD to take part in a night vigil in support of the ANCYL president. Picture: Antoine de Ras

BALDWIN NDABA, kristen van schie and moloko moloto

THE GROUNDSWELL of support for beleaguered ANC Youth League president Julius Malema was slow to build up last night.

Those who first went to show support came in small groups.

In Polokwane, in Malema’s home province of Limpopo, ANCYL members insulted and attacked media representatives, damaging an SABC TV camera just before 11pm.

Earlier, the mob, who had braved the nippy weather, sang derogatory songs about ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and party president Jacob Zuma, saying the two ANC leaders were persecuting the youth.

Security officials prevented the media from entering the premises.

“We don’t want you here, we will speak to you when we return from Luthuli,” said a youth league member.

In Joburg,

you heard them before you saw them. Their chants rose through the empty CBD, bouncing off the buildings and echoing down the streets.

They congregated in Beyers Naudé Square, the roads to Luthuli House around the corner blocked off by metro cops.

They whistled, they cheered, they stamped their feet in the cool air. First 30, then over 80, then close to 300 as more and more supporters arrived, on foot, in cars, riding in the backs of bakkies.

It wasn’t close to the 60 000-strong horde the media had been promised. But these were just the first few, the local Gauteng ANCYL members showing support for Malema ahead of his disciplinary hearing.

Still, despite the talk of a show of solidarity for Malema, or demonstrations, the ANC has insisted that Malema and five ANC youth league executives will be disciplined – dashing the league’s hopes of a political solution.

Mantashe said the party’s national executive committee wanted disciplinary charges against the six to continue.

“They further affirmed that any person going through the disciplinary process of the ANC must subject himself or herself to such a process, and any issues or matters that relate to the process must be submitted to the disciplinary process,” Mantashe said.

The statement followed an earlier ANCYL media briefing during which Malema said the six were “prepared for anything”.

Malema said the league had made several overtures to find a political solution.

“We should find a solution as soon as possible. We are not cowards. We remain fearless.”

“It’s not even that we’re here to support Malema,” said one youth league member, who would only give his name as Sipho.

“We’re here to defend the resolution we took at the youth league congress in Midrand, to support the Botswana youth. It was not an individual’s decision; it’s the view from the youth around South Africa.”

His friend Lucky agreed: “The resolution says the youth league will support all youth leagues across in Africa to fight for freedom for their people. Like it happened in Egypt. Like it’s happening in Libya.”

By 11pm, the promised busloads from across the country had not yet arrived. But Sipho and Lucky remained unfazed.

“We’ll stay here all night.”

ANC heavyweights Derek Hanekom and Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu, who have had public spats with the league, will sit on the disciplinary committee. The two have previously slammed Malema in public for his views on the nationalisation of mines and expropriation of land without compensation.

At a packed press conference yesterday, Malema was accompanied by his co-accused and head of communication Floyd Shivambu, deputy president Ronald Lamola, secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, treasurer Pule Mabe and deputy secretary-general Kenetswe Mosenogi.

The six, who have been charged with bringing the ANC into disrepute, will make separate appearances. Only Mabe and Mosenogi will appear together.

In what may indicate the line of response the six are likely to adopt, Malema said the charges against him and his co-accused were an attempt to stamp out the call for the nationalisation of mines.