* About 2,000 demonstrators march through Johannesburg
* Protestors deliver petitions to Chamber of Mines, stock
* Marchers head to Pretoria to hand petition to Zuma on
(Updates with marchers reaching stock exchange)
By Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG, Oct 27 South Africa's firebrand
youth leader Julius Malema marched 2,000 young black South
Africans through the streets of Johannesburg on Thursday,
demanding the part nationalisation of the country's mines and
seizure of white-owned farms.
Malema, head of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth
League, challenged President Jacob Zuma's government to do more
to tackle the chronic unemployment blighting the continent's
biggest economy that is controlled by the white minority.
The protestors marched first to the Chamber of Mines to
deliver a petition to black Chief Executive Bheki Sibiya then
continued on to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange to hand over a
list of proposals that echoed the disastrous economic policies
of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.
Malema said the marchers would continue onto the capital
Pretoria to hand a petition to Zuma on Friday.
"Down with white monopoly capital, down," chanted Malema,
who has fallen out of favour with Zuma whose government has
ignored his radical calls for mine nationalisation and farm
Police cordoned off streets as the 2,000 chanting and
singing protestors snaked their way from the central business
district of South Africa's commercial capital to the stock
exchange in the upmarket Sandton financial district -- a 20 km
(13 mile) walk on a hot summer day.
Some businesses around the Chamber of Mines in downtown
Johannesburg and the stock exchange told employees to stay home
and tightened security in case the protest turned violent.
In the petition to the Chamber of Mines, the mining
industry body, the ANC Youth League demanded the state take 60
percent control of the country's mines and all mineral
processing plants be situated close to the mines.
South Africa, with the world's largest gold reserves and 90
percent of its platinum, is the world's fifth-biggest mining
"The CEO is the face of white capital but he is a
brother," Malema said of the chamber's CEO Sibiya, addressing
marchers from the back of a truck. "He is one of our own but
works for the wrong people."
Sibiya acknowledged the poverty, unemployment and
inequality that persists 17 years after the end of apartheid in
South Africa and promised to respond to the petition within five
"Comrades, I will engage with all members of the Chamber of
Mines and they will receive the letter," he told the crowd.
However the Chamber of Mines said in a statement that it did
not agree with the Youth League proposals, in particular
"This will severely damage the economic performance of the
country and thus leave the population as a whole in a much worst
state than before," said the statement.
About 25 percent of South Africans are without work, and a
study by the Institute of Race Relations has said half of
25-to-34-year-olds had little chance of ever finding employment.
"We are here because the youth is marginalised by
unemployment," said Youth League official Given Valashiya, 29.
"Unemployment is high, so it is important to nationalise the
means of production in South Africa as well as expropriate the
land. We want to remind our president about these issues."
Malema rose to prominence when he campaigned for Zuma's
election in 2007 but he has since fallen out of favour with
South Africa's leader and his government with his radical calls
Critics argue that Malema is using the march to divert
attention from an ANC disciplinary hearing that could see him
expelled from the party.
The growing gap between South Africa's haves and have-nots
has created political space for Malema, whose fearless
challenges to everybody from Zuma to "white capitalists" has
endeared him to the millions of impoverished blacks.
(Additional reporting by Peroshni Govender; Editing by Ed
Cropley and Alison Williams)