Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
When I was released from hospital after suffering from exhaustion, I went straight back to calling on South Africans to build our country, respect the rule of law and to keep fighting HIV/Aids. I also warned that the growing divisions in the ruling Party are heightening tensions over jobs and expectations.
Mr Julius Malema has also emerged from hospital with a strong message. But the message of the ANC Youth League President is so provocative that it has even attracted the criticism of the Minister of Police, Mr Nathi Mthethwa.
Speaking in Thembelihle on Wednesday, Mr Malema infuriated the Indian community by calling them "coolies". In doing this, he has offended all of us as South Africans. We, as black South Africans, resent those who still call us "kaffirs".
Mr Malema then went further and advocated land expropriation without compensation. In fact, he said, "If they don’t want to give the land over to us, we must take it without their permission." That amounts to theft. Yet Mr Malema has labeled white South Africans as "thieves".
It is not surprising that AfriForum has laid a criminal charge against Mr Malema for incitement to sedition. This can be added to the growing list of insults, slander, hate speech and indiscretions on the part of the ANC Youth League President.
I am not surprised, though. The ANC was very laid back when Mr Malema hurled insults at me. Even after President Zuma apologized on his behalf, Mr Malema maintained the barrage of insults, even threatening that the Youth League would invade my home. He has insulted South Africans across the spectrum, from Premier Helen Zille to former Minister of Education Naledi Pandor, and the current Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande.
I have said before that he has gone too far. But what lies on the other side of too far? He is still there, making his ill-advised statements, dividing our nation, pitting race against race and threatening to destabilize our country.
And the divisions within the ruling Party grow with his every utterance.
Now Mr Malema wants to lead a march next Thursday from the Johannesburg CBD to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the Union Buildings, in support of land expropriation and the nationalization of our mines. Yesterday the IFP Youth Brigade publicly distanced itself from the nationalization programme. But opposition to the Youth League’s plan has not only come from the Opposition.
The ANC’s alliance partners are not of one mind about the march. COSATU is split down the middle, and the SACP has rejected the march for its "unstated agenda". There is general agreement, though, that this march has less to do with courting economic reform than it has to do with forcing leadership reform within the ANC.
Constitutionally, the Youth League has a right to march. No one is claiming they don’t. The frustration of our youth is also understandable, for unemployment and poverty have become a ticking time bomb in South Africa. But one must question the wisdom of portraying an image internationally of divided leadership and angry youth. While it may be a true picture of our country, it is surely not an advert for investment.
Multi-national organizations and foreign investors are unlikely to see this march as a healthy mobilization towards economic reform. They are looking at South Africa as an investment destination, not a social experiment. Because this march originates in the ruling Party, it creates the perception that South Africa is deeply unstable.
During Apartheid, the ANC’s mission-in-exile campaigned for international disinvestment from South Africa. I fear that, in the end, the ANC Youth League of today may prove to be even more effective in promoting disinvestment.
Yours in the service of the nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP