Analysis: Malema doesn’t feel bound by any settlement

By Andy Rice 16 July 2010

By pushing ahead with disciplinary action against Masoga, even after the ANC leadership stepped in to placate him in exchange for dropping of court action, Malema is proving beyond reasonable doubt that he cannot be trusted. Not good for a fledgling politician's career.

When summing up the ANC Youth League these days, we can think of no better statement than: “There is no doubt things are falling apart for the centre has lost it – it is no longer holding.”

The irony is that the statement isn’t ours, it’s theirs. That’s right, on a Youth League letterhead, nogal. It’s from the ANCYL in Limpopo, and it sums up what’s really been the big political story of 2010, that under the leadership of Julius Malema, the League has almost completely disintegrated.

This line is contained in a response from Lehlogonolo Masoga, he who dropped his high court case against the national League this week. You’ll remember he challenged Julius Malema’s mate for the Limpopo leadership, got chucked out of the conference by the police, was forced to submit to disciplinary action, challenged that in court and then dropped the case after getting an assurance from Gwede Mantashe that it would all be sorted out.

Well, it won’t come as a surprise to Julius-watchers to see he doesn’t consider himself constrained in any way by the settlement. Instead of sitting with his arms folded and a finger to his lips, waiting for headmaster Gwede to arrive, he started shouting and took out a fag and smoked it in class. He decided the disciplinary against Masoga would resume this weekend regardless. Masoga, of course, knows that action would end with him being suspended.

What’s really stupid about this is that it’s the only leverage Malema still has, and he’s using it all now. From his side, Masoga still has plenty of leverage. He can appeal to Mantashe, or he can go back to court. And if he does that, as we’ve observed before, he’ll probably win. So Malema is blowing all his bubblegum in the teacher’s face a little early. Of course, this is typical Malema, and his testosterone-addled thinking. It really is a case of his political immaturity preventing him from making a straight political decision.

This could, perhaps, be what really damages Malema below the waterline. If you enter into an agreement with someone, and then renege on it, you piss them off. But you also show to the world, that you cannot be trusted. And Malema has now done this publicly to two very important people.

The first is the man now becoming his mortal enemy, Masoga. If Masoga is backed into a corner, where he’ll be expelled, he’ll be forced to go to court. Which is exactly what both Malema and Mantashe don’t want. And it would be embarrassing for Malema to lose a second court case (after the Eastern Cape Youth League won last week). Masoga has his entire political career in front of him, and he’s not going to give that up easily.

But the other enemy is Mantashe, and through him, the ANC. Mantashe will now know that never mind the history between them, Malema cannot be trusted, handled or controlled in any way. And, more worryingly for Malema, he’ll be able to show this to Malema’s backers on the national working committee (if he has any left). “Look,” he’ll be able to say, “This man goes back on his word, he’s not interested in solving things politically.” And there’s no way even the biggest of Malema’s supporters can argue against that.

It’s also going to be a signal to all of Malema’s enemies, that for him only might is right, and that he’ll do anything to win. Which means they’ll do the same. It’s vintage Malema, he’s just upped the ante. Which means the array of forces against him will do the same.

Just a couple of weeks ago we would ask if the Youth League would be able to hold its national general council meeting as planned in July. Then it was postponed, which is in itself an admission of complete failure on Malema’s part. Now the real question is, could there actually be one at all. What is it that the Youth League’s members agree on? If the NGC does go ahead at the end of August, could anyone control it? Will the ANC itself actually have to run it? And if it doesn’t intervene, could the Youth League as we know it, come to an end. You know, pass on. Become an ex-Youth League.

And it’s not as if the ANC could say it wasn’t warned.

By Stephen Grootes

(Grootes is an Eyewitness News reporter)

Photo by The Daily Maverick


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