South African President Jacob Zuma has called for unity and discipline in the ruling African National Congress on Monday while attending his party's mid-term review conference.
Jacob Zuma came to the ANC National General Council in Durban, aware the powerful and often turbulent ANC Youth League wanted the conference to adopt a plan to nationalize private South African mines. But Mr. Zuma made it plain this would not happen.
"We should not be like people who are confusing the NGC with the national policy conference, whose task is to begin a process of discussing, shaping and evaluating policies in preparation for the national conference of the ANC [in 2012]," Zuma said.
Nationalization has not been ANC policy for the past decade, but youth league president Julius Malema wants it reinstated. He particularly wants mines to be nationalized, arguing that doing so would greatly reduce unemployment. Experts scoff at the suggestion, but Malema has succeeded in introducing the topic into the national discourse.
The youth league contributed significantly to Mr. Zuma's ascent to the presidency of the African National Congress, and the country. Early this year, Mr. Zuma described Malema as a future leader of the party.
But since Malema became president of the league in 2008, he has been involved in numerous controversies. Not long after praising him, Mr. Zuma felt compelled to rebuke him in public and the youth-league leader was formally disciplined by the party.
It has since been plain that Malema no longer supports Mr. Zuma, but this did not prevent the ANC leader from once again rebuking him.
"Those who belong to junior structures must respect those serving in senior structures," he said.
President Zuma has not only lost Malema's support, polls show that national support for both him and the ANC has declined about 10 percent in the past year.
Experts say this is because he has been seen as a weak president, who has failed to deliver on his election promises of job creation, better health care and improved delivery of services to people in poor communities.
He will need to convince 3,500 delegates at this week's review conference that he can improve his track record in the two years before the next ANC national conference in 2012.