Politics

Malema denies all, demands privacy, attacks media

By Branko Brkic 22 February 2010

ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema on Monday denied – outright, absolutely and in strong language – that he benefits from any business interests. He receives only his salary from the League, he says, and that funds his lifestyle. How much is that salary? None of your bloody business, that’s how much.

Julius Malema says he resigned from all company directorships he held on becoming president of the ANC Youth League, received no equity payouts from those companies, and subsists exclusively on his salary.

He will not, however, disclose any details of that salary. Not the amount, and not when he received increases (though he did). He’d like to, he says, but his contract precludes him from doing so. It is, however, “way above” R20,000. And if you have any further questions in that regard, you can bugger right off. Asking is disrespectful and, ultimately, rooted in racism.

“You don’t want a black diamond to shine,” he told a packed, two-hour media conference at Luthuli House in Johannesburg, but vowed that there is “not any headline from the newspaper that will stop African children from making success in business.”

Malema says he owns one car – a Mercedes C63 – and has a mortgage “being financed by South African banks” that make monthly deductions from his salary, contrary to reports that he paid cash. He couldn’t do so, he says, because he’s never had access to that kind of money. Oh, and although he borrows cars and gets rides from other comrades, he says he’s never seen the inside of an Aston Martin.

“I have never seen a million with my naked eye, neither have I seen a bank balance of a million.”

Malema had harsh words for the the media, and not just Independent Newspapers (The Star published the initial article about the value of his houses, car and watch), which he is in the process of suing, he says. Journalists are accepting so-called brown-envelopes stuffed with cash, and should be audited on their lifestyles. “We know who’s bribing you,” he told the assembled reporters. “We are going to lock you up just after receiving a brown envelope.”

Journalists also sleep with politicians for inside information, he says, and yet put his [Malema’s] child at risk of kidnapping for ransom.

Malema did not reject the concept of lifestyle audits, however, and said that people at his level of influence should be included. But he wants such audits to be conducted by a law enforcement agency, and to not target individuals because of their policies.

What he considers to be a concerted attack on him, he believes, is driven by disgruntled ANC and alliance leaders (who he refuses to name publicly) who wish to neuter his and the League’s influence in setting ANC and government policy.

Malema avoided certain questions, such as his admitted past involvement with for-profit companies and, more recently, calling capitalism an evil system.

By Phillip de Wet

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