Soldiers welcome Malema ahead of address

Controversial politician Julius Malema is in Lenasia to address disgruntled soldiers.

Expelled ANC Youth League Leader Julius Malema. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema on Wednesday arrived at the Lenasia Recreation Centre to a rapturous welcome from about 50 soldiers.

He was due to address the soldiers and listen to their grievances.

Disgruntled soldiers said the former ANCYL leader will help them send a strong message about their problems to government.

Malema had been meeting with mineworkers across Gauteng and the North West over the past two weeks.

Soldiers said they were concerned with the deployment of ANC cadres to top structures of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

They said they were also disgruntled by dismissals and disciplinary matters.

Most of the soldiers at the gathering were suspended or placed on special leave.

This followed a 2009 incident where SANDF members stormed the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said her fears about Malema addressing the soldiers should concern all South Africans.

The minister lashed out at Malema, accusing him of being "counter-revolutionary".

All military bases in the country were put on high alert, with Malema's actions likened to "mutiny and sedition".

Mapisa-Nqakula said soldiers should have contacted her department to raise their concerns instead of approaching Malema.

She said this is a matter of national importance.

"It should worry us in view of the incidents of the past few weeks, where he said he plans to make mines ungovernable."

But Malema laughed off the minister's concerns.

He said the soldiers approached him because of a serious lack of leadership at government level.

"The leadership is only interested in getting reelected in national politics and personal accumulation."