Tuesday, 13 April 2010

South Africa in the Press this week


David Smith's article in The Guardian (London) on ANCYL President Julius Malema, the most "feared figure in South African politics":

Smith, the newspaper's Africa correspondent, recounts how he "shared a dinner table in a ballroom at the Michelangelo Hotel in Johannesburg last week with several black middle-class South Africans including a lawyer, a marketing executive, a political consultant and a public relations specialist. The conversation was varied and jovial, but weighted with the dread that Zimbabwe's ruined economy and bloodsoaked politics might be a glimpse of South Africa's own future. This came from a sense that Malema is in fact on to something, giving a voice to the millions of black South Africans who feel cheated by the promise of multiracial democracy."

The Daily Dispatch report on how ANC leaders had engineered the victory of Malema-supporters in a series of ANCYL regional conference in the Eastern Cape:

Mayibongwe Maqhina quotes party sources as saying "part of the reason for Malema's convincing victories was because the nomination procedure for top district posts was changed from the usual secret ballot to a show of hands - under the watchful eyes of senior ANC leaders. Malema himself witnessed voting at the OR Tambo conference. Malema's supporters so far command support from three of the youth body's regions - Amathole, OR Tambo and Cacadu . Andile Lungisa, Malema's deputy [and rival] who is tipped to challenge for the top position, has backing from the Nelson Mandela Metro, while Alfred Nzo, Chris Hani and Joe Gqabi regions have yet to decide."

The Beeld report on the murder of the matric pupil Ernst Hoon, 18, on his family's small holding in Leeuwfontein north-east of Pretoria:

Virginia Keppler reports that Hoon was shot by robbers through a (just) broken bedroom window at 3am in the morning. The attackers then jumped through the window, took his laptop and fled. "Deon Hoon, Ernst's father, said his son then stumbled into the bathroom, where he collapsed. Ernst's mother, Brenette, 51, and his sister, Kalike, 21, tried in vain to resuscitate him, but he died of the gunshot wound."

S'Thembiso Msomi's column in The Times (April 7) on how Malema's visit to Zimbabwe, and support for Robert Mugabe, was damaging President Jacob Zuma's mediation efforts:

Msomi notes that Malema's statements in Zimbabwe, including his endorsement of Mugabe and attack on the MDC, "can hardly enhance Zuma's image as an honest broker in the conflict between Mugabe and Tsvangirai." This, in turn, put the South African president's efforts at risk. Msomi concludes: "Since taking over, Zuma has had one thing working in his favour: the MDC and other role players genuinely believed him to be an impartial mediator committed to finding a lasting solution to the country's problems. But this confidence in him will soon evaporate if he does not watch the actions and utterances of those with strong ties to him."

The Beeld report (Monday, April 4) on the circumstances of AWB leader Eugene Terre'Blanche's murder:

Linda de Beer writes that two local policemen came across Terre'Blanche's body in the house on his farm Witrandjiesfrontein. A panga and knobkerrie were found next to his body. This was after the police received a call over a reported attack on the farm. The report quoted Captain Adéle Rautenbach, police spokeswoman in the North West province, as saying that all indications were that he was attacked in his sleep. Beeld claimed that the two suspects were arrested shortly after the murder, as they were walking along a gravel road in the district.

This account stands in marked contrast to that contained in the front page report in the Sunday Times the previous day. This quoted a "police source" as saying that the suspects claim to have acted in self-defence after an altercation over unpaid wages; that they had not fled the scene; and, were still in possession of the "knobkerrie and panga" when they were found.

Clearly, someone is not telling the truth, but who are they and what is their agenda?

The Sowetan report on a plot by the ‘nationalist' faction within the ANC NEC and Youth League to remove much of the party's top leadership at the next party conference:

The newspaper reports that if the Fikile Mbalula camp get their way only Jacob Zuma and Kgalema Motlanthe would be returned to their positions in the ANC ‘top six'. "A member of the lobby group said the current leadership was the result of compromises made in Polokwane to oust former president Thabo Mbeki. ‘We compromised on a number of positions and that is the main reason why the ANC is being ambushed by the left. Everyone knows that Gwede Mantashe was a compromise at Polokwane'." The Mbalula camp prefers the following leaders: President - Jacob Zuma; Deputy President - Kgalema Motlanthe; National Chairperson - Bathabile Dlamini or Angie Motshekga; Treasurer-general - Jeff Radebe; General Secretary - Fikile Mbalula; Deputy Secretary - Bathabile Dlamini or Angie Motshekga."

Tim Cohen's article in Business Day on the extraordinary parallels between Malema and Terre'Blanche:

Cohen observes of the two men: "their techniques, their style, their general ham- fistedness, their faux-populism, their carefully constructed ‘outrageousness', their bizarre media appeal, all come from the same political copybook. The difference is that TerreBlanche's bubble had long ago been pricked, and Malema's appears to be inflating at extraordinary speed, with the bewildered and stunned assistance of the African National Congress's (ANC's) chronic do-nothing culture. There was a time when TerreBlanche was as feared at Malema is today. He was recognised as ‘extreme', yet he was also given credence as a tip of the iceberg - a symbol of what Afrikaners would be if they gave in to their fears.... It's interesting to recall how TerreBlanche collapsed under the weight of his own falsities. Perhaps this is Malema's ultimate fate."

The report in Die Burger (April 7) on the "increasing unease" within the ANC at the conduct of Malema:

The newspaper reported, however, that "nobody - including ministers, senior alliance leaders and MPs - is prepared to be quoted openly and directly about their fears." A senior alliance member, who requested anonymity, told the newspaper: "He (Malema) thinks he's untouchable and he behaves that way. The problem is that there's a large group of unemployed, disillusioned youth who relate to his populist statements and melodrama." Another anonymous source "with direct access to Zuma said that Malema often uses his influence with the president when the ANCYL leader finds himself facing internal pressure. ‘If the NEC is meeting and he knows he's in trouble, he calls Zuma to explain his side of the story and in so doing takes the sting out of any reprimand'."

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