ANC Youth League president Julius Malema has accused those who leaked stories about his houses, cars and his enrichment through government tenders of employing the same strategies used by former president Thabo Mbeki.
SABC news reported yesterday that Malema, who was addressing ANC branches in Potchefstroom, said Mbeki’s government had also been prone to investigating those it disagreed with in the same manner that his own business interests and property ownership were being probed now.
“These people who are saying we are criminals are not different from president Mbeki’s government. Because president Mbeki’s government, when you disagreed with them you were going to be investigated like a criminal. Today our cheap houses, which are funded by banks, are shown all over the papers – the strategy is to silence us,” he said.
Malema plans to defend himself at a press conference today after revelations that he has earned about R140 million through government tenders, while opposition parties have called for him to be investigated for tax compliance.
Cosatu has called for lifestyle audits to be conducted on politicians and public servants.
Some in the ANC and the broader alliance fear the lifestyle audits could expose many leaders who have benefited from government tenders, while others believe the exposure of Malema’s assets is part of a wider battle in the ruling alliance.
The ANC Youth League has turned its guns on ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, whom it wants to oust in favour of Deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula at the ruling party’s elective conference in Mangaung in 2012.
But this has pitted it against Cosatu and the SACP, which say Mantashe is being targeted because he is a communist and anti-corruption.
Malema refused to discuss his business interests when approached by Independent Newspapers yesterday, saying the youth league was convening a press conference at noon today to respond to reports splashed in newspapers at the weekend that he had benefited from a string of lucrative contracts from municipalities in his home province, Limpopo.
City Press reported that Malema’s engineering company, SGL Engineering Projects, had scooped tenders for sewerage, cemetery services, road construction, street paving, bulk water supply and central business district upgrades.
Five contracts from the Tzaneen municipality had netted the company R28m.
Independent Newspapers reported on Friday that Malema had bought luxury homes worth R4.6m in Sandton and Limpopo, drove luxury vehicles and that he wore a Breitling watch worth R250 000.
Malema told the Sunday Times there was no law preventing him from having private interests.
“There is no law that says politicians can’t be businessmen. The problem with you is that when an African child is emerging and becoming successful, that is when you have a problem,” he is reported to have said.
But political parties have upped the pressure on Malema, with the ID saying the youth league leader needed to be probed for tax compliance.
ID president Patricia de Lille called on Sars – which is planning to crack down on tax avoiders – to tell South Africans whether the youth league leader had paid his taxes.
De Lille said she was sure that the information released about Malema was part of the wider battle between the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the youth league.
DA national youth spokesman Khume Ramulifho said the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment and awarding government contracts to well-connected individuals was to blame for service backlogs.
“The tragedy of the sort of tenderpreneurship engaged in by Malema and his ilk is to be found in the nature of its relationship with chronic backlogs in service delivery across many South African provinces and municipalities. “The link is obvious: contracts or jobs that reward cronies inevitably come at the expense of the majority, since they are provided to those who are well connected, rather than those with the skills to deliver service to the people,” he said.
Deputy Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has also blasted corrupt and lazy public servants.
Writing in the ANC’s journal, Umrabulo, he said apartheid and poverty could no longer be blamed for laziness and corruption in government.
“The largest incidents of corruption in the public service occur among senior management services, among those that earn satisfactory salaries where large accounts and budgets are controlled. “It is at this level that huge contracts and tenders are issued, and where kickbacks are often demanded for contracts and offered,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, the DA said that Zuma had to stop ANC discussions about the nationalisation of mines.
The party said the debate – which is being championed by the ANCYL – would scare off investors.
Source: www.pretorianews.co.za, 20100222
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