South Africa, Politics

Julius Malema and his never-ending last hurrah

By Greg Nicolson 12 March 2012

With time running out before he’s either expelled or suspended from the ANC, Julius Malema was busy on Sunday getting the last word in before the national disciplinary committee appeals process starts all over again. Not surprisingly, he was unapologetic. By GREG NICOLSON.

You’ve got to give it to the guy, he’s not buckling under the pressure. Speaking in Brandfort on Sunday, the former temporary home of his mentor Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema was his obstinate self. “I will not ask a provincial leader or national government leader,” he said, referring to rumours he wasn’t welcome in the Free State. No one in the name of the ANC could make such a request, he said. Requiring someone to have “a permit” to travel harks back to the apartheid days. Chances are he was referring to President Zuma’s ally Premier Ace Magashule.

He continued with this bravado in an interview on the SABC on Sunday evening. Responding to the widely-held consensus that he should put his ego in the closet alongside those designer labels and apologise to the leadership of the ANC for, well, being Malema, he said he must get a mandate from ANCYL members to do so. They elected him twice and all of his actions have been in their name. It’s the stance he’s held throughout the disciplinary process aimed to position the youth league, not the easiest institution to discipline as a whole, and its policies behind the executive’s controversial comments.

At both speaking engagements, Juju maintained that he respects the decisions of the ANC, demonstrated by his cooperation thus far with the disciplinary process, and will abide by its rulings. “There must never be confusion,” he said at the Majwemasweu community hall in Brandfort, adding that the ANCYL deputy president Ronald Lamola will take the top spot if Malema’s suspended or given the boot. Not a bad move: he’ll abide by the ruling of the ANC but he’ll be damned if it makes a difference to the stance of the youth league.

It’s fair enough, however, to ask whether he will do what he’s told. Malema received a boost last week when he arrived at Cosatu’s march against e-tolls and labour brokers and took the stage to cheering fans desperate to touch him and hear him speak. Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini said in the Mail & Guardian, “That was out of order. Cosatu is not going to be used.”

Malema, who no organisers expected to speak, used the platform to show his own levels of support and rub shoulders for a day with Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. If Vavi, who seems to be growing apart from the Cosatu leadership but has enormous pull with union members, will give Malema a platform now, maybe he’ll get to share his views on this or another platform after he’s expelled.

“I love the ANC. I don’t know anything else,” Malema told the SABC. While some might want to question which parts of the ANC he loves, it’s undeniable that he knows little else than how to be a political beast. We all know he’s keen for a leadership change after falling out with Zuma’s crew; just look for him doing the “shower dance” in the nightclubs on a Saturday night for that. But Malema dodged leadership questions like the seasoned politician he is, challenging the presenter to provide evidence then and there.

His secretary general Sindiso Magaqa apologised on Saturday unreservedly and unconditionally to former ANCYL leader and current public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba for saying he was “pleasing imperialists”. Magaqa will now avoid suspension, something that’s unlikely for Malema even if he gets down on his knees.

But Malema may have another reason to stand strong. As Stephen Grootes wrote on these pages, if he gets expelled, “ahead of Mangaung, he would be absolutely free to shout, scream and strike out, and generally behave, well, as he has been doing. It would be a license to make strong statements, to lose the gloves completely. It may seem that actually, he can’t get any worse. But for Zuma he could.”

Don’t expect Malema to go into exile in Brandfort just yet. DM

Read more:

  • Malema slams government officials for ‘living in luxury’ in SABC.
  • Malema: how far will the ANC go? in Daily Maverick.

Photo: Julius Malema is unapologetic as usual. REUTERS.


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