Hyde ruins Malema’s Jekyll

2011-06-25 11:25

Like many other South Africans and football lovers, I was depressed and surprised when I heard in April that the career of striker Benni McCarthy, one of the country’s brilliant footballers, had come to an abrupt end.

His career had started with so much promise and success.

The football star signed lucrative contracts with various top European clubs and won endless trophies, including the prestigious Uefa Champions League in the 2003/04 season.

McCarthy dedicated his life to football, sacrificing even his own education in the process.

The goal poacher scored crucial goals and became Bafana Bafana’s all-time leading scorer – 31 goals from 79 matches. He appeared destined for greater heights.

Like some, I was convinced that the man would end his career on a high note, either as an adored national hero, a Bafana coach or even Safa president one day.

Little did I realise that McCarthy would allow the other person in him, his alter ego, to derail or sabotage his career.

Alter ego, or another “I” in Latin, refers to a second personality within a person that makes them live a double life or display different behaviours in various situations without realising it.

McCarthy 2 was arrogant, temperamental, big-headed and had very little respect for any other person.

He emotionally blackmailed his fellow countrymen by insisting on playing for Bafana on his own terms, or else.

As if that was not enough, he once led a disruptive wage rebellion of Bafana players in the middle of a crucial Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

Despite his talent, McCarthy was booted out of West Ham United and paid R16 million to sit at home. Out of form and overweight, the English Premiership club terminated his contract.

The decision not only pushed him into the football wilderness, but also robbed South Africa of a potential future football leader. McCarthy’s alter ego had sealed his fate.

On the political “football field”, ANC Youth League president Julius Malema is a gifted, smart, classy and intelligent politician with excellent leadership skills.

Love him or hate him, Malema is a superb orator with an impressive ability to snatch and maintain power by hook or by crook.

In a period of 14 years, he hasn’t lost a leadership contest – as Students’ Representative Council president, Congress of South African Students leader and later, between 2003 and 2008, Limpopo ANC Youth League secretary.

He also boasts the ability to hit opponents below the belt or get friends and foe eating from his hand like he did at his hate speech trial and at last week’s league national conference.

The fiery politician knows which buttons to push and, in the process, wins the hearts and souls of many – especially ordinary, landless blacks living in abject poverty.

With his sheer class he has always embarrassed those who, because they dislike his political a genda, usually tried to project him as an unthinking lunatic. Barring a miracle, Malema seems destined for the highest office in the land within the next 25 years.

But there is also Malema 2, the one who shares all of the qualities of McCarthy 2 and is insensitive to the concerns and fears of the powerless in society. He is a naïve, greedy tenderpreneur prone to scandals and scoring own goals. Firms linked to him have repeatedly made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Malema 2 appears to use his powerful position to amass wealth while driving a narrow economic agenda that benefits only cronies and associates.

He does not see any reason to sacrifice his business interests for the sake of Malema 1’s political career. He angrily accused Limpopo Health MEC Dikeledi Magadzi of meeting the Hawks and asking the unit to arrest him and his ally, Premier Cassel Mathale, for alleged corruption.

This despite Malema 1’s repeated public commitment to helping fight corruption.

Unlike Malema the orator, Malema 2 emotionally blackmails or threatens those who hold a different view. Either he will cause unprecedented chaos or not back the re-election of ANC leaders if they do not agree to nationalise the country’s mines and expropriate land without compensation.

In short, Malema 2 seems to be unwittingly undermining the good intentions and public profile of Malema 1, costing him credibility.

He seems to be successfully sabotaging the presidential ambitions of Malema 1.

And unless Malema 1 quickly crushes Malema 2, the Juju train is likely to lose steam a few kilometres before it reaches the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

With that, South Africa may be robbed of another potential future leader, and probably one of the best presidents ever, like what happened with that naïve McCarthy 2.

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