South Africa’s main opposition Democratic Alliance party says calls by the leader of the youth wing of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party to take up arms to defend its party leader are irresponsible. ANC youth leader Julius Malema reportedly said they are prepared to take up arms and kill for the leader of the ANC Jacob Zuma, who is facing graft charges. The opposition party described Malema’s statement as inciting rhetoric that is dangerous to the tenets of South Africa’s constitution. Jordan Lewis is the youth leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance party. From Cape Town, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that Malema’s statement is despicable.
“At the outset I think I need to say that we condemn that statement in the strongest possible term that we are very, very concerned about them. You know less than a month ago, our country was plunged into some pretty serious violence regarding the issue of xenophobia. And at that time we joined the ANC youth League in condemning the violence in our country, and we condemned that very vocally and very vociferously in all our country media. And now, less than a month later for the ANC youth league to actually be advocating violence, well firstly is very inconsistent and very irresponsible of them,” Lewis pointed out.
He said Malema’s statement has no place in South Africa’s democracy.
“It’s quite possible that the statement was made in the height of a political event that he doesn’t necessarily believe it in its entirety or its total severity. But the fact of the matter is that the ANC youth wing is the youth wing of the governing party in South Africa, and they cannot say anything that even be remotely construed as irresponsible as actually inciting violence in the country,” he said.
South Africans who reportedly condemned Malema’s statement are demanding an apology. But the ANC youth wing denies its leader made any inflammatory statements, saying Malema was misquoted in the South African media. Lewis said the ANC is trying to divert attention from the statement by claiming the leader of the youth league was taken out of context.
“Now, whether they were taken out of context or not is frankly irrelevant because the statement was irresponsible, and they need to withdraw it in that light,” Lewis noted.
He concurs that the ANC youth leader should render an apology to all South Africans over his statement.
“I add my voice to that chorus. I think whatever they really meant with that statement is clearly being taken as a very irresponsible statement and I think the best thing for them to do would be to issue a full retraction of that statement and to explain their position, and to reaffirm their commitment to the constitution in South Africa,” he said.
Lewis said that Julius Malema’s comments went far beyond the position taken by party president Jacob Zuma, and that the ANC leader should denounce Malema’s statement.
“T his is something that very few members of the media have picked up on, but it is actually just as concerning. He said that we are going to have a situation where we are going to have the president of the country who is going to spend half his time in court, and that this is not acceptable and that therefore, the court case should be dropped,” Lewis pointed out.
He said there is need for the rule of law to be upheld.
“What we need in that situation is for the law to take its course, and for his (Zuma) innocence to be proven. Or, if the state is correct in its allegation, then his guilt needs to be proven and the relevant cause of action needs to be taken. But we cant just ignore the rule of law and ignore the constitution, just because he is the head of state,” he said.