Waiting for Julius

By Greg Nicolson 24 October 2011

Julius Malema was touring Gauteng’s townships this weekend to garner support for the mass protests scheduled for Thursday and Friday. Some, GREG NICOLSON included, were left wanting.

Residents of Cheapside in Evaton were disappointed on Sunday when the ANC Youth League president cancelled his visit to the settlement, deciding that two dusty townships were enough for one day. Officially, he didn’t show because of ANCYL “internal issues”, but the scene suggested otherwise. A frustrated group of Umkhonto we Sizwe vets were planning to challenge the firebrand leader, only to be told to go home. Rather than a herd of Young Lions, drinkers milled in the car park outside a tavern with no sign that Malema was ever going to appear.

The Young Lion spent the weekend on a campaign to draw support for the marches on the JSE, the Chamber of Mines and the Union Buildings, and with it comes all the mayhem of electioneering. He’s already visited Thembelihle, Diepsloot, Ivory Park and Ratanda and there’s more to go. Most journalists spent Sunday cursing their GPS systems (or maps if you’re stuck in the 20th century like this reporter) while searching for his scheduled stops. In Bantu Bonke, Mayerton, he donned his revolutionary black beret and sang “kiss the boer” with 150 residents crammed into a community hall. He then advised them to keep their land from miners and proposed how we should share the wealth of our democracy.

For those geographically challenged journos who missed his first two appointments, Juju’s departure from Bantu Bonke turned into a rally car race with a much-needed quote on non-remunerative land appropriation, nationalisation, or a backhander to the ANC leadership as first prize. Malema and spokesman Floyd Shivambu led the way in a Range Rover and Mercedes, while those with less horsepower fought for third position. They never stood a chance. Within minutes the pack of hacks returned to fiddling with their GPS systems and asking for directions.

When the group finally stopped in Cheapside, Malema wasn’t there to answer questions from those he hopes to march with. But he wrote in the Sunday Times yesterday that the marches will focus on the needs of “the underemployed and unemployed youth, the landless, the homeless, the informal settlement dwellers and those aspiring to quality education and decent lives.” Conjecture suggests, however, that the marches will be used to push Malema’s own ideology and garner support for his preferred list of leaders ahead of the ANC elective conference in Mangaung next year. Looking to canvass this in the local tavern, I was asked some questions of my own. “Are you here to help black people or just pick up girls?” I wish Juju was here to help with that one, I thought. DM

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Photo: Greg Nicolson.


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