The “Occupy Wall Street” may have spread 8,000 miles away to Johannesburg, South Africa.
Thousands of protesters have staged a rally in the center of city to highlight the problems of unemployment among black youths and also to demand greater economic power for the nation’s disenfranchised black majority.
The protest was organized by the Youth League of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party which wants economic reforms and the nationalization of major business sectors, including the all-important mining industry. The ANC Youth League is also calling for a reduction in the number and influence of white-owned companies.
The South African Press Association (SAPA) news agency reported that the protesters, which included many students from the black townships outside Johannesburg, marched to the headquarters of the Chamber of Mines and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
They reportedly chanted ”Shoot the Boer [Afrikaner]” in defiance of anti-hate laws that forbid the utterance of such inflammatory phrases in public.
The protesters also held up banners which read 90% of economy in hands of minority and Nationalization -- a better life for all.”
Although apartheid was abolished in 1994, black South African remain mired in poverty and unemployment. The official national jobless rate is in excess of 25 percent – the figure is far higher for black youth.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzmande said that unemployment in South Africa is probably closer to 40 percent .
Floyd Shivambu, a spokesman for the ANC Youth League spokesman, told BBC that by nationalizing the mines, thousands of new jobs would be created.
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 utilize that power to take from those who currently own and give to those who don't', he said.
However, Chamber of Mines President Bheki Sibiya, rejects the notion.
“Nationalization is like killing the goose that lays the golden egg,” he told SAPA.
The goose should be left to live so that it [can] lay more golden eggs which in turn would be distributed equally.
Julius Malema, the controversial leader of ANC Youth League, accused Sibya, who is black, of being a sell-out.
He is our brother but he himself doesn't have a mine, Malema told SAPA.
There is no blood on the floor. To prevent the blood, our demands must be met.
Malema has also called for the re-distribution of white-owned farm land to poor blacks.
Malema faces expulsion from the broader ANC party for repeatedly criticizing government policy.
According to other reports, some ANC Youth league members also praised former Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi.