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Happy birthday. Comrade. President. Malema!

Sipho Hlongwane is a writer and columnist for Daily Maverick. His other work interests also include motoring, music and technology, for which he has some awards. In a previous life, he drove forklift trucks, hosted radio shows, waited tables, and was once bitten by a large monitor lizard on his ankle. It hurt a lot. Arsenal Football Club is his only permanent obsession. He appears in these pages as a political correspondent.

The nation’s favourite Young Lion turns 30 today. It’s very unlikely Julius Sello Malema will be getting many presents from the media, so I thought I had better address this and wish him a very happy birthday.

Dear Comrade President,

May I be one of many to wish you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY?! The ANC Youth League was the first, of course:

“The African National Congress Youth League wishes President Julius Malema a joyous 30th  Birthday. ANC Youth League President Julius Malema is turning 30 on the 3rd of March 2011. The ANC Youth League is proud to have Julius Malema as its President because since his ascendance to the Presidency of the ANC Youth League, he has diligently served its members and robustly raised relevant political, economic and ideological questions on behalf of the ANC Youth and entire youth of South Africa.

“As an Economic Freedom Fighter, President Julius Malema perfectly represents the generation he is leading, because majority of the youth in South Africa today are fighting for economic freedom and opportunities. The youth of South Africa today are at the forefront of many battles and struggles in communities, universities, and workplaces to have access to better services, jobs and many other economic opportunities. President Julius Malema’s relentless, uncompromising and militant articulation of the aspirations of the youth and what should be the future is outstanding.

“The message of the more than 600 000 members of the ANC Youth League on the birthday of its President is that he should grow stronger, more radical, militant, focused and determined in leading the struggles for economic freedom in our lifetime. The entire membership will need his service over the coming years and many years to come as leader of the ANC Youth League and ANC. HAPPY BIRTHDAY COMRADE PRESIDENT!”

As a youth in South Africa, this reporter repeats the stance of the ANCYL, that since you arrived on the national stage, the level of political, economic and ideological debate has not been the same. Your first words after being elected president were a warning to your erstwhile foe Fikile Mbalula, “This is not your youth league, Mbalula,” you said. “You led a different youth league. You did not have to deal with naked people at your congress. Our youth league congress has naked people all over the place, yours didn’t!”

Make no mistake about it, Comrade President. The black people of this nation greatly appreciate your militant stance. I will never forget one fine evening, sitting under the crisp Pretoria evening sky, discussing matters such as race reconciliation and the economy with some few fellow black professionals. One of them said, “The problem is that the only black person that white people fear is Julius Malema.” Cue laughter. But imagine the horror if you were not around, Comrade President. White people would not fear a single black person.

In the matter of economic transformation, you have consistently championed nationalisation of mines, which will bring about economic freedom for the previously disadvantaged even in the face of stiff opposition from reactionary economists, analysts and the pro-West counter-revolutionary market. When minerals and energy minister Susan Shabangu and De Beers chairman Nicky Oppenheimer condemned you, did you back down? What the hell do they know about the economy?

Your various contributions to the economy of Limpopo prove your economic credentials. The people will always trust cadres who work to improve the lives of the people through government tenders instead of billionaire mine bosses who built their empires on the backs of black exploitation. Who else would have the vision to seek advice on economic transformation from the Zanu-PF government of Zimbabwe?

As an Economic Freedom Fighter, the people also acknowledge your struggle against reactionary right-wingers who wish to take our struggle history away from the masses by getting the courts to ban ‘Ayesaba Amagwala’. Viva the struggle against the Boer, viva!

The youth collective of the country looks forward to your continued leadership for many years to come. If the last three years are anything to go by, your presidency of the country in the future will be glorious.

Yours in the name of Economic Militancy,

Sipho Hlongwane


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