Opinionista Onkgopotse JJ Tabane 19 February 2014

Dear Con-mander Julius Malema… let’s talk frankly

You are a conman extraordinaire. For someone who could hardly pass woodwork, someone who rose to prominence as a street-trashing COSAS leader able to explain the rationale of rampaging the streets of Johannesburg instead of marching peacefully, you sure know how to reinvent yourself. The ANC was always going to be too small for your big ego.

Very few people around the world and in the history books have ever managed to form a tin-pot dictatorship of their own and dress themselves in the borrowed robes – Commander-in-Chief. You sure know how to reinvent yourself, cadre. It was always going to end in tears, though, when you considered yourself bigger than the organisation. No one – even Mandela – ever managed to be above the organisation that gave birth to him. You tried it and you overestimated your own importance by thinking that Mangaung was going to be some kind of revolt where your reinstatement would be demanded. Sadly, your troops left with tails between their legs. While in comparison to those who formed COPE you pride yourself on the fact that you were expelled and did not leave the ANC. That, in fact, should underline the collective rejection of an entire broad church of your silly gimmicks and shortsighted populism.

You failed to leave the ANC based on having the courage of your [now new-found] convictions. The reality is that the so-called EFF are nothing but a group of disgruntled former ANC members who have bastardised parts of the Freedom Charter and attempted to give the population false hope that they may suddenly – upon your rise to power – own land for which they do not have to sweat. Much the same way you allegedly acquired your millions – through the corruption and manipulation of tenders in Limpopo. Many believe you are as corrupt as they come and that you have mastered the art of denial. But at least you are going to court to try to disprove it, no matter how improbable.

The so-called Ratanang Trust was allegedly a scam of major proportions where people had to pay bribes to you to get tenders. When this tap was closed you suddenly became a victim of a political conspiracy. Of course your court case will prove all of this to be false and maybe produce evidence that it is purely a political trial where evidence of wrongdoing was manufactured in Cabinet and in fear of your political rise. Methinks if you did not give your enemies material to pin you down they would have nothing on you. Good for you that you have apologised for rallying and encouraging young people to support Zuma. But an apology won’t cut it. What you are doing now is asking this country to go backward by voting for you. You are asking us to become like Zimbabwe with chaotic land grabs and that is hardly attractive. You are asking us to adopt a Chinese currency, to queue for petrol and bread so that you can call yourself a freedom fighter. When a young woman whose life is probably destroyed now, accused Jacob Zama of rape, you were not such a fighter for her freedom. You made fun of her, laying bare your chauvinistic self for which a court of law had to force you to apologise.

Is that why you expect the women of South Africa to vote for you to become their Commander-in-Chief? When Ma Mbeki joined COPE you were amongst the first to insult her. When Tutu called the ANC to order you were amongst the voices that sought to drown him out and insult him – today you pronounce platitudes about how ‘the country needs elders’. You are fooling no one.

Let’s cut through your noise and see what is it really that you are offering South Africans. Nelson Mandela emerged out of prison to negotiate a peaceful settlement – that settlement included respect for each other as a society, the protection of minorities including an orderly transfer of land to the majority. You are asking me to dishonor Mandela’s memory by shredding the Constitution and going around the country annexing land without compensation? You are asking me to tell whites and blacks it was all a bad dream, this past twenty years of trying to make sense of our freedom? You are asking me to spit on the grave of the father of this nation by reversing the gains of what he lived and was prepared to die for – a sense of peace?

That should make you ashamed. You fall neatly into the definition of a peacetime hero. You think by shouting unimplementable slogans you will garner even enough votes to run a local municipality? Even the most radical of our latter-day politicians thinkers and philosophers have not brought themselves to such utter drivel. You are on a hiding to nothing on land. While there has been slow progress and one has to agree with you that this may well be a time-bomb, I don’t see how your recipe for social disorder is going to help us move forward. Other than the chaotic Zimbabwe-style land grabs, do you even have a single example you can pinpoint anywhere in the world where even an approximation of what you are suggesting has ever come to pass? I am obviously writing to you hoping you can read and write, and so my frank talk is not going to waste.

Nationalisation of mines is another one of your pipe dreams. Have you checked the meaning of the word in the dictionary? Does history teach you anything at all – if it does – where has nationalisation ever worked for the benefit of the people? You want us to take over the debts of your business friends whose BBE deals are now unravelling? Because every single mining concern I know is partly owned by some or other black people who by now are waiting to cash in as much as their white counterparts. You should learn to read the signs of the times. Your utterances on nationalisation are so far-fetched that they have ceased to worry anyone. Obviously using the levers of the ANC when you could, you forced the ANC to discuss the matter at its recent NGC – but you were defeated and could not convince more than a handful of your worshippers that this even merited more than just a polite accommodation, as we should in a democracy. As they say, even the dull have a story to tell. The sad part is often you have to sit through the pain of their non-argument to dismiss it for what it is – clearly the ANC has hope in its youth. It does not matter how many bums they flout in the air.

Commander, you have left a bankrupt youth movement in your wake and for the first time in history our movement has to fight an election without a decent youth wing – thanks to your command. A commander whose company built false bridges in Limpopo as a result of fake contracts and corrupt dealings is now pretending to be a saviour of the poor. I hope those whose emotions you are fanning over Marikana will not forget your tendency to think life is made up of a set of gimmicks and with you they are plenty.

Making people march with you to Pretoria before you could jet off in a purple suit to a Mauritius holiday resort to sip on the good drinks of this life I suppose takes the cake. A man of contrast – or frankly – a con.

And you have your red beret and outfit and you have learned to spell good words such as political tolerance. You were a ring-leader spewing bile at the opposition but now when your medicine is administered to you, you find it too bitter to swallow. You are reaping exactly what you have sown. You were the ringleader of insulting anyone who crossed your path. Today you pretend to be polished; going around issuing fake apologies to those you treated with disdain cause you are now out in the cold.

A few people will fall for your con. We all know that you will end up with a few seats in Parliament and then you will forget quickly about your freedom fighters. You will at least not have to pay unaffordable Sandton rates and taxes as you are assigned a house at Akasia Park Parliamentary Village with old furniture whose smell should remind you that you went to parliament on the back of the poor. Don’t get me wrong – you are making some of the right noises – but that is not enough.

Lastly, I have to commend you for being a master of gimmicks – but as those educated around you will tell you, no one has ever risen to power on the back of gimmicks. Gimmicks by their very nature are temporary. I suppose you will wear your red beret in parliament – when you attend the head of state meetings in CHOGAM and UN, should you become president, I suppose it will be a new trademark like that of Che Guevara – except that these were people of substance whose symbols find themselves bastardised on the alter of banal populism.

I wish you luck as you fight over the crumbs of a couple of seats here and there in Parliament – readying yourselves to be ignored by the ANC majority for the next few years.

Yours frankly,

Onkgopotse JJ Tabane. DM


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