He appears in an angelic white shirt, looking shiny-faced and healthy, although somewhat thinner (it may just be a flattering camera angle), with just the faintest of mischievous smiles playing around his lips.
This is ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, appearing in a one-minute video clip posted on YouTube in advance of his organisation’s march on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the Chamber of Mines and the Union Buildings – basically everyone who is annoying the League at the moment.
The clip starts with machine gun fire and a song, and then Malema delivers his short, but sweet (depending on whether you’re looking at this from inside or outside the Union Buildings) message, saying “if you need a job, a house, land, the nationalisation of mines, free education, better salaries, free electricity and water”, you should join the march. Heck, that’s just about 99% of the population.
In fact, it’s so all-encompassing that Cosatu on Monday said it would urge people to support the march. It’s not clear whether the labour federation – which is divided in its support of Malema and his aims (which may or may not include unseating President Jacob Zuma) – is joining the League march because it supports it, or because it wants to hijack the mass action.
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi at the labour federation’s extended central executive committee meeting earlier this year voiced some displeasure, if not disappointment, in Zuma’s leadership, so this could indicate the federation’s move in the anti-Zuma direction.
But on the other hand, Cosatu might not have any other choice than to joint the action, instead of trying to beat the League. Malema, after all, told the League in June that a lack of leadership for workers and the jobless have left a vacuum which he and his cohorts are planning to fill.
Also, unionists are well-practised at mass action, seeing that they partake in it almost every year, especially in strike season. Cosatu might want to use the League’s marches on 27 and 28 October as a warm-up for its own strike and mass action against labour brokers (and Walmart, and whatever else it might not agree with) on a date that is yet to be specified.
The League, desperate for any friends it can get in a time of disciplinary action (Malema, having missed his hearing last week due to a mystery illness which saw him hospitalised, is due to face the ANC’s disciplinarians on Saturday again), said in a statement on Tuesday Cosatu has proved itself “once again” to be a “reliable ally in the struggles of the working class and the poor and will never compromise principle because of petty politics.
“The ANC Youth League will unapologetically fight side by side with workers until all objectives of the Freedom Charter are met,” it said.
The League has promised to issue regular updates on the build-up for the mass action (read: hopes to mobilise millions and millions of people) and will call its new, sometimes, best friends, journalists, to press conferences “to update members of the media and public about the preparations”.
The League also managed to attract grudging support from its friends-we-like-to-boo, the Young Communist League, which has also promised its support – albeit in the form of a seminar, far away from the mass action, which will coincide with the League’s own redletter days. DM
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