Defend Truth


Malema is turning 90% of people against him, all by himself


Kallie Kriel is CEO of AfriForum.

The suggestion that AfriForum has given Julius Malema a platform to secure more support by giving him exposure and an opportunity to grow his follower base is simply untrue. Rather, Malema alienates people across the spectrum every time he is given a chance to reveal how much he is prepared to ignore respectful behaviour.

Julius Malema has an exceptional ability to make enemies on a large scale, out of people from a wide range of sectors and communities. He antagonises everyone who attaches importance to respectful behaviour – from lawyers and minority communities to black communities. The hate that Malema is spreading with so much exaggerated self-confidence in Parliament, at political gatherings, during press conferences, in court even, and on many other platforms, can unfortunately cause one to lose perspective regarding his actual influence.

Stephen Grootes writes in his Daily Maverick article “Song will tear us apart, again” that AfriForum’s court case may “strengthen” Malema. What Grootes does not realise (along with other white leftist commentators who share his view, such as Max du Preez and Pierre de Vos) is that his racist slip is unintentionally showing. Commentators such as him seem to think that black people are more vulnerable to being influenced by talk of violence and disrespectful action, which would then “strengthen” Malema because he romanticises violence. I disagree with Grootes and believe that the vast majority of black people – and also brown, white and Indian people – abhor disrespectful actions. Any opportunity that gives Malema a chance to expose that he embraces violence, such as the court case against him, indeed weakens his position.

In the past weeks some commentators also expressed the misplaced hope that he would disappear from public debate if AfriForum would cease taking him on over his hate speech. However, the reality is that he – much like all who incite violence – would see the absence of any resistance as a sign of weakness. This would only fan his flames.

Rather than backing down, we should evaluate the true influence of Malema while considering the larger political landscape. Then we must act strategically to form a broad coalition with the majority of people in the country who are against Malema’s romanticisation of violence. This majority opposes polarisation and strives towards a peaceful coexistence that is based on mutual recognition and respect.  

We have to consider that when Malema mobilises his own supporters, he unintentionally succeeds in turning the majority of people in the country against his own ideas. Let me explain this with reference to four facts:  

  1. 90% of the country’s people do not vote for Malema and the EFF

Malema has been advocating hate and violence for longer than a decade. During this time he has attempted to use every possible platform to enlist the support of the masses. However, election after election shows that he is failing. The fact that the EFF can garner just over 10% of support is the best indication that Malema’s disrespectful actions are convincing 90% of people to rather not vote for his party.

The fact that he again unmasked himself as racist and embracing violence during AfriForum’s court case last week, will only serve to further alienate the majority of people in the country from his ideas.

  1. Communities are working together more and more

Malema has established himself as the symbol of everything that is wrong in this country. His ideas represent the type of society that most people do not want.

The growing concern for the future in most cultural communities is one of the reasons so many want to cooperate with AfriForum to change the country into a community of communities who cooperate on the basis of mutual recognition and respect. In this regard, AfriForum is already working closely with several cultural communities. The first of a number of cooperation agreements between AfriForum and cultural communities will be announced soon.

From our interactions, it is clear that the country’s respective communities have a shared interest in a stable society. Just as the majority of people (black, white, brown and Indian) were opposed to the lootings in KwaZulu-Natal and various other places in 2021, and stood up to protect their communities, people will not allow themselves to be carried away en masse by Malema.

  1. Communities are turning towards self-reliance

The Malemas of the world have played an unintended role to help thousands of people realise that we should never make our futures dependent on politicians who polarise us, but that we must take our own and our communities’ future into our own hands. While Malema is busy demolishing, AfriForum, the other institutions within the Solidarity Movement and other community institutions are hard at work within the framework of the law, helping to make communities more resistant to these sowers of hatred.  

This self-reliant attitude has been gaining unprecedented momentum over the past decade. Communities are now organised more strongly through self-reliant institutions. Apart from AfriForum’s 165 neighbourhood watches and “self-do” community structures, the other institutions of the Solidarity Movement have also realised self-reliance on many terrains. These include tertiary education, schools, social services, culture and heritage. The fact that people are increasingly opting for self-reliance has resulted in AfriForum growing from a humble beginning 15 years ago into an institution comprising 300,000 active members. The institutions of the Solidarity Movement together now comprise significantly more than half a million families.

  1. International support

It is not only locally that AfriForum and the Solidarity Movement are cooperating with more and more partners, but also internationally. A decade or so ago, it was very difficult to explain to foreigners that the country was no longer the miracle of former president Nelson Mandela that they believed it to be. Nowadays, you no longer have to explain too much. Just show them a video of Julius Malema making his statements, and they not only become indignant, but – more importantly – they also understand our situation.

How should we react to Malema?

It is only human to get upset by Malema’s remarks. However, it is important to not fall into unfounded despair. Keep things in perspective with this knowledge: each time that he acts without respect, he further alienates the 90% who do not vote for him. In a strange way, it is therefore not bad to put Malema in the spotlight, because he gets another opportunity to discredit himself even more. DM


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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • John Buchan says:

    On the button, a great read.

  • Craig B says:

    Unfortunately afriforum is white and in South Africa that matters. Being left to afriforum is the enemy and therefore afriforum is a political party not an NGO. Play in one space then other whites won’t find you annoying.

    • Coen Gous says:

      So what do you suggest? That everybody must just sit on the sidelines and do nothing at all? In other words, he can curse, assault white policemen, organise violent confrontation, shoot guns, express hate speech (kill the farmer is hate speech!), etc. Afriforum represent a lot of people that makes voluntary contributions. If you find them annoying (like “other Whites, whatever that might mean”), perhaps you should join the EFF!

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