(Updates 9th paragraph to show that memorandum has been handed to the JSE.)
Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Thousands of young South Africans sang and danced in downtown Johannesburg demanding nationalization of the nation’s mines and professing support for African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema.
The demonstrators marched to the Chamber of Mines and the Johannesburg stock exchange and planned to go to President Jacob Zuma’s office in Pretoria, the capital. Surrounded by dozens of anti-riot police, they carried placards that said “We Demand Nationalization” and “Expropriation of Land Without Compensation.”
Malema, 30, and five other Youth League leaders are facing ANC disciplinary hearings and may be expelled for bringing the the ruling party into disrepute by calling the government in neighboring Botswana a “puppet of the West.” He’s championed the nationalization of mines in South Africa, the world’s top producer of platinum and chrome, and chided Zuma for failing to improve the lot of the poor.
“The wealth of the country must be given to the people,” said Monde Koko, 23, a physics student. He called the disciplinary hearings an attempt by the party “to silence the Youth League on their views.”
The ANC’s Youth League was instrumental in helping Zuma to defeat former President Thabo Mbeki for the leadership of the party and ultimately Africa’s biggest economy.
The Youth League shouldn’t back Zuma for a second term at next year’s leadership contest, Mzukisi Ntutu, a 28-year-old municipal worker from the Eastern Cape, said in an interview.
“Zuma has failed to unite the ANC, he failed the poorest of the poor,” he said.
Youth League Deputy President Ronald Lamola led a chant supporting Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who he has backed to succeed Zuma.
“This is a lot about trying to demonstrate that they are no longer in favor of Jacob Zuma,” Zwelethu Jolobe, a political analyst at the University of Cape Town, said in a phone interview yesterday. “It has to do with a group within the Youth League that is trying to show force.”
The demonstrators read out and handed over a memorandum at the Chamber of Mines in downtown Johannesburg and did the same at the city’s stock exchange in the northern Sandton financial district. They plan to continue marching to Pretoria tonight. The entire trip from downtown Johannesburg to Pretoria is 62 kilometers (39 miles).
“Down with white monopoly capital,” Malema told the cheering crowd. Mining companies must respond to the Youth League’s demands of doing more to address inequality “to avoid blood on the floor,” said Malema, who was wearing a T-shirt bearing a picture of Nelson Mandela, the country’s first black president.
Deutsche, Barbed Wire
A tall fence was erected around the stock exchange and public access was restricted, while police set up barbed wire in front of nearby buildings.
“The complex here, being Deutsche Bank, JSE and HSBC, agreed with the approach,” Herman Bosman, the chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank’s South African unit, said in an e- mailed response to questions. “Whether it’s a storm in a tea cup, only time will tell. We take all opinion formers and leaders seriously.”
Malema said on Oct. 24 that young people are increasingly angry about the lack of opportunities in an economy that they see as controlled by the country’s white minority. South Africa’s jobless rate of 25.7 percent is the highest of 61 countries tracked by Bloomberg.
“If that anger is not properly managed you run the risk of an uprising,” he said.
Hundreds of Malema supporters in August protested against the inquiry against him and five other Youth League leaders, pelting police and journalists with rocks and bottles and burning T-shirts bearing Zuma’s image outside the ANC headquarters in central Johannesburg.
--With assistance from Janice Kew in Johannesburg and Renee Bonorchis in Johannesburg. Editors: Karl Maier, Antony Sguazzin
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