Politics

Sticks and stones may break Malema’s bones… but maybe not

By Carien Du Plessis 27 August 2011

ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema has delivered what could be his political swansong, warning the ANC’s disciplinarian elders “the ANC is not a pig, it will never eat its own children”. CARIEN DU PLESSIS could almost smell the flesh burning.

It was short notice: On Friday morning the charged ANC Youth League spokesman Floyd Shivambu sent out an email saying the (charged) ANC Youth League president Julius Malema was to address the Young Women’s Assembly in honour of Albertina Sisulu (a Youth League event, co-sponsored, apparently, by the National Youth Development Agency and the department of trade and industry). On Friday evening around 21:00, Juju was rolling.

The atmosphere was, well, charged, the speech, which came in under an hour, relatively short.

Bladdie agents had to divert themselves from an ANC fundraising dinner in Pretoria’s Burgerspark Hotel, where deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe was to address diplomats, to the St George’s Hotel in Centurion, where Malema was kind of on time for once (the League’s statement erroneously had a much, much earlier time than the one at which Malema arrived).

He started by trying to stick to a prepared speech (so as to avoid problems, he dryly explained), in which he quoted liberally from Nelson Mandela’s autobiographical “Long Walk to Freedom”.

“People must never lie when they talk politics. They must never create an impression that the Nelson Mandela generation was different from this generation. There is nothing your generation is doing that the Nelson Mandela generation didn’t do,” he said.

The parallels between the League of today and that of the 1940s are telling: Mandela and the youngsters wanted the ANC to be more militant, AB Xuma resisted and chased the youngsters out of his house, accusing them of being “arrogant” and “disrespectful”. The young women in the audience sniggered knowingly.

The youngsters then went and chose a different candidate, James Moroka, lobbied for him overnight and he was elected.

He almost had us convinced. Malema’s history was later corrected by defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu (she attended to accept an honour on behalf of her deceased mother, Albertina) in her speech, which followed Malema’s. Sisulu reminded Malema that Moroka in his acceptance speech said he was glad to be leader of the African National Council (instead of Congress). Madiba regretted this decision taken in anger and said never again.

Malema’s speech became more defiant, defending Winnie Mandela’s revolutionary self, and then he moved on to his new idol, former president Thabo Mbeki, who “had the chance to learn from a woman like Albertina Sisulu. Till today Mbeki is one of the best revolutionaries ever produced by the movement. When in power the only mistake he committed was to want more power, but naturally, you can’t take brains of Thabo away from him. That capacity Thabo did not get it from university, he got it from the ANC, from people like Mama Albertina Sisulu.”

Malema then really hit top gear and said:

An attack on him was an attack on the “struggle for economic revolution”.

The issues on which the ANC wants to discipline him are really the ideas/resolutions of the League and not of one individual. “Individuals can come and go, but the revolution must remain. You cannot arrest it. Engage the idea. Play the ball and not the man. Let’s engage the ideas of the ANCYL. Let’s engage the resolutions of the ANCYL,” he said.

What the Youth League is going through is a “contestation of the outcomes of the (League’s June elective) congress, both in leadership and from a policy point of view. Since that congress the Youth League has never had peace because people have never accepted the outcome of the congress.”

Even if you fire an individual tomorrow and hold a new congress, the League’s resolutions on nationalisation of mines, free education and land expropriation without compensation won’t change.

“We have defeated you in ideas in that congress, we have defeated you on the ground. Shortcut (sic) will never work. If you are a real fighter you must win on the ground, and not shortcut. If (the ANC’s congress next year in) Mangaung says we can’t nationalise, that’s not the end of the struggle. Because we know the struggle is not like organising (a) 21st birthday party. It is not an occasion.”

“We must refuse to die on our knees begging for our revolution. We must die standing for what we believe in. When you die for the views that you hold it is better, because your soul, your consciousness will always be at peace with you. But if you sell your soul you will never be at peace with yourself.”

“The autonomy of the Youth League must be defended. (Former youth leader) Peter Mokaba fought for this autonomy. The Youth League cannot be  desk, but must be (an) autonomous body in (the) ANC.”

“The Youth League must be allowed to think. They must not be suppressed. A political debate must remain a political debate. We must disagree in order to agree… This is what makes ANC to turn 100 years next year (sic), it is open debate in ANC. We must guard that jealously.”

“Whatever happens we are ready for that. This ANC is bigger than individuals. We will leave the ANC and it will continue like that. Even if we are fired tomorrow, our blood will remain black, green and gold. We don’t need a(sic) permission to be ANC. We will die ANC. It is not a membership card that defines you. It’s your consciousness, it’s your blood. It is what you believe in.”

“We have welcomed into the ANC – people who have insulted the ANC, why would we today want to fire people who have stood with us through difficult times and never stood outside ANC.” (Cope, obviously)

“We want to remind the elders, the ANC is not a pig, it will never eat its own children. An ANC that eats its own children is no longer the ANC.”

He quoted Congolese independence leader “Patrick” (or rather, Patrice) Lumumba: “History will one say have its say, and comrades, let’s leave everything in the hands of history. One day history will tell.”

A quick decode of Malema’s speech is that the League will get rid of President Jacob Zuma at next year’s elective congress if it so wants, the League should be allowed to campaign for leaders on the grounds that they support the League’s policies (the ANC this week said it shouldn’t) and even if Malema is kicked out of the ANC (it is expected that he could be expelled for two to five years after his disciplinary hearing on Tuesday), he’ll continue to mobilise, but really (and here are some echoes of the Biblical lost son parable), how could the ANC expel him if they accepted those un-coping Cope rebels back into its bosom?

The ANC Youth League’s structures in its provinces are all holding special provincial general councils to decide what they’ll do next week to support Malema and his co-accused, Shivambu, deputy president Ronald Lamola, secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, his deputy Kenetswe Mosenogi and treasurer Pule Mabe.

The ANC had better have a good case next week. DM


Read more:

  • Malema backlash? Probably not in Daily Maverick;
  • ANC shoots from its branches as party structures called into line in Daily Maverick;
  • Julius, countryman, lend us your ears, in Daily Maverick;
  • Malema’s disciplinary: not everyone in the League standing by their man in Daily Maverick;
  • Malema and the disciplinary committee: A rough guide in Daily Maverick.

Photo: Daily Maverick.

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