|14. April 2010
Zuma furious about Malema, critisises “hate speech”
It all began with the meeting of the ruling party’s top six officials at Mahlambandlopfu, Zuma’s official residence, on Tuesday last week (April 7). At that meeting, the ruling party’s top brass showed a very rare sign of leadership by finally ordering its structures to suspend the singing of controversial struggle songs. The order was issued in the context of a High Court ruling that went against the leadership, and of the political and racial tensions caused by the right-wing extremist Eugene Terre Blanche’s killing.
In the past, the ANC top six would have just shrugged off responsibility, leaving it all in the hands of the party’s national executive committee. The problem with this approach over the past two years has been that the committee’s regular meetings are held only once every three months, meaning that important issues are left hanging for too long while the public is clamouring for political leadership.
By ordering Malema and other party leaders not to sing the “shoot the Boer” song until the national executive Committee had made a decision about it, the top six revealed for the first time that they do have a backbone and that they are no longer willing to be bullied by populists in the ranks.
More evidence of this was a hard-hitting statement issued on Friday by the ANC head office after Malema’s disastrous press conference.
Not only did the party distance itself from his attack on journalists and his continued singing of the controversial songs, it slammed him for suggesting that the ruling party wanted Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-Pf to win the next Zimbabwean elections.
As if this were not enough, Zuma – who has been justifiably chastised for putting his head in the sand every time the youth league blunders – surprisingly called an impromptu press conference before his departure to Brazil to express his personal disgust at Malema’s conduct.
Are all these indicents an indication that Zuma and his team have finally realised the seriousness of the political damage that attention-seeking and bickering in the ruling party’s ranks is causing the government and the country? Zuma has intimated that disciplinary action might soon been taken against Malema for his recent utterances and actions.
If this happens, it will be a sure sign that things have changed.
(S’Thembiso Msomi, The Times, Johannesburg)