Even as a church congregation prayed for strength for Julius Malema in his disciplinary before the ANC this week, the Young Lion remained unrepentant about his wealth and how he got it. CARIEN DU PLESSIS was in church on Sunday – and later also heard that the SACP is rejoicing in the ANC’s disciplinary moves.
If it depended on the prayers of the 110-year-old African Methodist Episcopal congregation in Pimville, Soweto on Sunday, God is on Julius Malema’s side as the young man faces the wrath of his elders in the party this week.
As it was, it appears the prayers may have helped him secure a legal heavy-hitter to stand at his side at his disciplinary hearing on Tuesday. After apparently struggling to find someone in the ANC to represent him, Malema has managed to pull big gun, Advocate Patric Mtshaulana, SC, to argue his case.
Mtshaulana confirmed last night that he, as a member of the ANC for 30 years, will be representing Malema and that he had met with the youth leader on Sunday – presumably after church – to discuss the case.
To quote the subject of Sunday’s sermon, Psalm 69, the waters have certainly reached Malema’s neck, and he is wallowing in the mire, as whispers in the ANC indicate that he’s facing expulsion.
He appeared ready to face his fate, and told reporters on Sunday that no-one was entitled to ANC membership, and the party had the right to take it away if they wished.
Malema and one of his right-hand men, Youth League treasurer Pule Mabe, on Sunday followed in the holy footsteps of their elders, like President Pastor Jacob Zuma.
The congregation – a warm, welcoming assembly of Christians about 200 strong, containing a good generational mix with women in a sure majority – outstretched their right hands as the presiding elder, reverend Tsele Setai, and the younger pastor BJ Motaung led “a minute or two” of prayers at the end of the service for Malema, their hands laid on his head.
Mabe had his turn after that.
Before that, Reverend Setai set the tone with a spirited sermon in English and Sotho (from David’s Psalm 69:1-8 and John 15:25-27) on how the God-fearing David was anointed king by the prophet Samuel, and how he had to battle it out with King Saul, who he was to succeed and who became jealous and suspicious.
Malema’s message was, in essence, that he was being persecuted for being black, successful and preaching economic freedom.
But he also asked the church not to judge.
“The church will protect successful black people. Today, every successful black person (is considered) a thief. People are suffering from pulling-down syndrome.
“When one of our own is under attack, instead of protecting that person, we are joining the chorus. And in joining the chorus, we are undermining the work of God. God provides, and even if this person has stolen money to buy this car, it is not for you to judge. This person will one day have to answer.”
He got a chorus of “amens” for this.
In a swipe directed at the state agencies like the Hawks reportedly investigating his financial doings (he told journalists after that he hadn’t heard from them yet), he said: “we, as children of Nelson Mandela, we must protect one another, we must trust one another”.
He continued: “The only crime we committed is asking if we could share equally. Those who benefited under apartheid still want to benefit in the same way. We are asking for a simple thing. We must all have a potion (sic) of this cake, we must all eat. But they kept on demanding we must all be locked outside. Some of those who should help us, are now joining these people. Our freedom is not a freedom of blue lights, but putting bread on the table,” Malema said.
He advised his elders not to suppress the “energy” of the youth, otherwise “they will be sick. You must nurture that energy, you must give it direction. You don’t accuse the young ones of things. If as a elder you say you can’t control this youth anymore, it means you have failed in your responsibility to nurture the youth”.
He urged congregants to “pray for our leaders” so that the Holy Spirit would “guide them and teach them wrong or right. It is only the Holy Spirit that guides these people in places where we cannot reach them. If you pretend that you’re so powerful the conscience speaks to you and says you are a sell-out,” he said, also invoking moral regeneration (Zuma’s obvious weak spot).
Like Zuma, he told the faithful: “The ANC remains an organisation of the church and you can’t separate the church from the ANC”. The AME church has close historic links with the party.
Although Malema, dressed smartly and simply in a dove-grey suit and crisp white shirt, didn’t know some of the hymns (he did give about four R100 notes in when it was time for offerings), his taste in churches is better than Zuma’s.
This journalist remembers covering a long birthday service for Zuma at the huge International Pentecostal Holiness Church in Westonaria in April 2009, where we, wearing the compulsory skirts and head cover (women still know their place here), witnessed multiple weddings, many of them polygamous. There was also Zuma’s controversial visit to the Rhema church before the 2009 elections.
But Malema is not leaving everything to God, and his League allies in the provinces have over the weekend vowed to bus thousands of supporters into central Johannesburg on Tuesday when he faces the party’s disciplinary committee in Luthuli House.
Cosatu has already declared that it supports the ANC’s move to discipline Malema, and the SACP, at a Sunday press conference in Cosatu House shortly after its central committee meeting, indicated the same.
The SACP “warmly welcomed moves by the leadership of the ANC to assert authority, and to reaffirm the core principles of our ANC-led movement – non-racialism, non-sexism and a respect for organisational democracy and discipline,” general secretary Blade Nzimande read from its statement. But he admitted the party’s own discipline is not so swift, and they’re still discussing charges against former Young Communist League (YCL) chairman and Limpopo MEC David Masondo (also a Malema ally) for “disrupting” the YCL’s conference in December last year, and for writing a critical story on “ZEE” or “Zuma economic empowerment” around the same time.
Nzimande also rejected “with contempt” charges from the ANC Youth League’s side that his party was central in drawing up the charges against Malema.
It’s “an insult to the members and leaders of the ANC, that some communists somewhere on the third floor of Cosatu House (in the SACP’s offices) can take a decision and impose it on the ANC,” he said.
Malema’s recent fight-back campaign started in Centurion on Friday night, where he told a Youth League event the ANC “is not a pig, it will never eat its own children”.
But it will take a miracle to save the young motor-mouth’s bacon this week. DM
Bladerunner (1980s version) is a visual feast due in large part to the Hollywood Actors Strike. This allowed the designers an extra three months to refine the sets and props.