South Africa: ANC Youth League protests call for reform

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Youth leader Julius Malema supports nationalisation

Several thousand protesters in South Africa's main city, Johannesburg, have demanded greater economic power for black people.

The demonstrators waved placards calling for the nationalisation of mines in order to reduce the influence of white-owned businesses.

The governing party's youth wing organised the protest under the theme "economic freedom in our lifetime".

White minority rule (apartheid) ended in South Africa in 1994.

The African National Congress (ANC) government has been battling to curb rising poverty and unemployment after leading a decades-long struggle against apartheid, which discriminated against black people.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzmande said on Thursday that unemployment in South Afrca stood at about 40% and was much higher among youth.

'Killing the goose'

Several schools in Johannesbrg's black townships were empty as pupils joined the march to the headquarters of the Chamber of Mines and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), the Sapa news agency reports.

Protesters chanted "Shoot the boer [Afrikaner]", in defiance of a court ruling that outlawed the liberation-era song as inciting racial hatred.

They also held up placards which read, "90% of economy in hands of minority" and "Nationalisation - a better life for all".

ANC Youth League spokesman Floyd Shivambu told the BBC the government should nationalise mines to create jobs, as the private sector was failing to do so.

"The ANC has got political power to transfer wealth from the minority to the majority and we are going to go the ANC government to say: 'let us utilise that power to take from those who currently own and give to those who don't'," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

Chamber of Mines President Bheki Sibiya, who accepted a memorandum from the protesters, rejected their demand.

"Nationalisation is like killing the goose that lays the golden egg," Sapa quoted him as saying.

"The goose should be left to live so that it [can] lay more golden eggs which in turn would be distributed equally."

South Africa is the world's biggest platinum producer and a major gold and diamond producer.


ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema accused Mr Sibiya, a black person, of being the face of white capital, Sapa reports.

"He is our brother but he himself doesn't have a mine," Mr Malema is quoted by Sapa as saying.

"There is no blood on the floor. To prevent the blood, our demands must be met."

Analysts say the government is unlikely to nationalise mines, as it is a discredited policy.

Mr Malema is currently facing an ANC disciplinary inquiry for allegedly sowing divisions in the party after he repeatedly criticised government policy.

Analysts say the protests are intended to show the ANC - led by President Jacob Zuma - that he has strong grassroots support and the inquiry could backfire on the party.

The ANC Youth League also expressed support for killed Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.

Its members wore T-shirts with his image above an AK-47 rifle.

Last week, the ANC Youth League hailed Col Gaddafi as a hero who had helped "liberate" Africa from colonial rule.

It said he had been killed by "Western imperialists" and "agents provocateurs".

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