A senior source at the Luthuli House headquarters said the marches, scheduled for Thursday and Friday, had been carefully orchestrated to tap into the anger in Gauteng’s informal settlements.
ANC national executive committe (NEC) member Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has emerged as a key youth league ally and has reportedly worked informal settlements, where she is popular, to mobilise people to march in a protest that effectively amounts to ANC versus ANC.
Contacted for comment, an aide who introduced himself as Jacob said the ANC veteran did not take media queries on weekends.
Youth league president Julius Malema has recently been focusing on garnering support from Gauteng informal settlements such as Zonkizizwe, Thembelihle, Setjwetla and Ivory Park.
Two league insiders said the position of ANC deputy president had been initially earmarked for Madikizela-Mandela at the party’s elective conference in Mangaung next year.
But the league reportedly finds itself in a dilemma because NEC member Tokyo Sexwale is understood to be eyeing the position.
The league favours deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe to take on President Jacob Zuma.
While billed as a march against youth unemployment, ANC leaders believe the protest is an attempt by Malema to fight his political battles.
“It is more like Malema showing how powerful he is. The march has nothing to do with the poor,” said one Gauteng youth league leader.
But Malema insisted they would march purely on behalf of the unemployed, the landless, the homeless and informal settlement dwellers.
Addressing supporters in Diepsloot yesterday, he said buses and taxis would ferry them to the march and urged them to take part.
In a veiled reference to Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande and his police counterpart Nathi Mthethwa, he said people should not heed cabinet ministers who tell them marches will “collapse the ANC”.
He said no minister or mayor could stop the march because the youth league did not need “permission to stage a revolution”. He said they were marching to Pretoria to remind them “it’s not yet uhuru”.
“If you come to your (senses), you can’t say people must not raise awareness about lack of jobs, about poverty and growing inequalities in society,” he said.
“(They say) when you talk about those things you want to overthrow the government of President Zuma. We are not about to do that.”
Malema said expelling him from the ANC would not resolve the problem of unemployment because there would be many more like him demanding jobs.
He faces expulsion from the ANC by a disciplinary committee now deliberating a finding against him on charges of bringing the party into disrepute and sowing division.
A youth league source said: “I don’t want to lie to you. Malema knows he is going (to be expelled). So the march is a threat saying, ‘If you expel me there will be havoc’.”
Youth league secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa said there was no truth to allegations that marching on the Union Buildings was tantamount to an attack on Zuma and the ANC government.
“Even if you cough, it’s like you are attacking Zuma,” he said.
Joburg metro police are expected to finalise the operational plan and mark out the route that marchers will take by tomorrow.
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the federation supported the right to protest against youth unemployment but said: “We will not be associated with anything that includes violence, thuggery or insurrection – or anything that sounds like an attempt to thwart disciplinary procedures or position for 2012,” Vavi said.
In an address at the South African Democratic Teachers Union’s provincial congress in Durban on Thursday, Vavi said there was a crisis in the movement, the term used to describe the tripartite alliance and its allied structures.
“There is a poisoned atmosphere of divisions and fast-forming cliques and cabals, pigeon-holing of unsuspecting individuals, innuendos, gossip, backstabbing, character assassination, political and even physical assassinations.”