At South Africa summit, hard-liners pushing to seize white farms
In a Monitor interview, hard-liner Julius Malema outlines a young generation's vision for how South Africa can emulate Zimbabwe's land reform.
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Malema could overstep his bounds, says Steven Friedman, a research associate at the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) and visiting professor of politics at Rhodes University. Pushing for a change of leadership, he says, would almost certainly backfire on the Youth League.Skip to next paragraph
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"The platform is to make policy review,” says Mr. Friedman. “There will be great opposition for the Youth League if ever they raised the subject [of leadership]. The Youth League will run into trouble."
But the issue of leadership will not be easily avoided, says Tiniyiko Maluleke, executive director for Research at the University of South Africa (Unisa).
"The issue of leadership is of interest not only to the ANC Youth League or Malema but to the alliance partners [including COSATU and the SACP],” says Professor Maluleke. "Any attempt to prevent it will be difficult."
The conference is likely to be a raucous affair, with opportunities for Malema and other former allies of Zuma, such as Zwelinzima Vavi of COSATU, to vent against the president's failure to deliver on campaign promises.
In his opening speech at the National General Council, Zuma took a tough line with his critics. “We have no choice but to reintroduce discipline in the ANC,” Mr. Zuma is reported to have told the 2000 ANC delegates at the meeting in Durban. “If we fail to do so, we would be weakening the very fiber and existence of the ANC.”
Singling out the ANC Youth League, he added, “We have noted some regrettable incidents, particularly relating to the ANC Youth League conferences, which are unacceptable and need to be dealt with. It is clear that the time has come for the organization to act. We must take a decision that those who engage in such activities are in fact undermining the organization and its work.”
In his Monitor interview, Malema says he wanted to press on with the Youth League’s radical agenda for transforming the economy, and insisted that seizing land from white farmers is the right course of action.
The willing-seller willing-buyer method of transferring land from whites to blacks has failed, Malema says. He wants South Africa to emulate Zimbabwe, and force sales of white land at prices set by the government. “The farmer should take it or leave, but the bottom line is that the government should determine the price of land."
In a May interview with Britain’s Daily Mail, Malema praised the land-grab policies of President Robert Mugabe, saying taking land from white farmers “was very good except the violent part of it.... We’ve got a majority in parliament to make legislation that will give us power to expropriate land with compensation,” he said.