THE Young Communist League (YCL ) wants to talk to the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) about its president Julius Malema's insults against South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Jeremy Cronin.

It was "disgusted" by the insults against Cronin, who is also the Deputy Minister of Transport, YCL spokeswoman Gugu Ndima said in a statement yesterday.

In his attack on Cronin, Malema said the ANCYL did not "need the permission of white political messiahs to think". This, after Cronin published an article criticising Malema's call to nationalise mines. Ndima said, "The YCL believes that Malema has sunk to the lowest ebb of being racist and hurling insults, instead of engaging with profound debates that Cronin was raising."

"We view the labelling of Cronin as a 'white messiah' not only as racist, but as an insult to the principle and ideology of the national liberation movement, that of nonracism. We are confident that the majority of members of the ANCYL do not share these racist and insulting labels," Ndima said. She said the YCL also noted that Malema substituted a sensible debate for insults and racist labels, and bravery for disrespect.

"But we believe that we can disagree on any issue and still maintain respect as comrades. What is worse is that Malema invokes the names of respectable leaders of the ANC, including Nelson Mandela, to justify these nonsensical insults and racist remarks."

Ndima said the YCL was also disappointed that a call by President Jacob Zuma and the alliance for a ceasefire in the trading of insults was being undermined by Malema.

The YCL wanted to meet with the ANCYL leadership before the end of the week, she said. The SACP has already defended Cronin and condemned Malema's insults.

Malema described the Cronin piece on mine nationalisation as "openly reactionary".

Cronin provided an analysis of the issues surrounding the nationalisation of the mines. In it, he criticised Malema and the league's calling for nationalisation, saying: "Comrade Malema hasn't always helped his case with off-the-wall sound-bytes. The impression of a policy being made on the hoof, individualistically, is reinforced by the fact that we are yet to see any serious attempt at a collective policy document on this matter from the ANCYL. "I suspect that comrade Malema and others are missing this bigger systemic picture because when they speak of mineral beneficiation they are thinking of bling . sorry, jewellery," he said.

In his response, Malema described the Cronin article as reactionary, "clothed in quasi- Marxist rhetoric, with potential to make a sorry and sad reflection of the true character of the SACP's ideological steadfastness."