Newsmaker: Did 2011 seal Malema’s fate?

2011-12-23 10:38

There was no way ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema was going to exit 2011 quietly.

It is the year in which his short political career climaxed, yet it also marked the beginning of his end.

Last weekend at the ANC’s Limpopo conference, Malema gave the man he was once prepared to kill for a taste of things to come.

President Jacob Zuma’s shower comments from his rape trial resurfaced in the form of a song – “shawara wa re sokodisa”, meaning the shower man is giving us problems.

Having been recently suspended from the party for five years, Malema had nothing to lose.

For the high-living Malema, keeping his business dealings under wraps was a challenge this year.

In July City Press exposed the existence of his Ratanang Family Trust, a vehicle established for the sole purpose of looking after his young son, but ostensibly used by Malema to receive payments from businessmen and supporters.

Then it emerged that the trust was a shareholder in On-Point Engineering, a tender-rich company run by Malema’s business associate,
Lesiba Gwangwa.

Malema and his trust are under investigation by the Hawks, the Public Protector, the SA Revenue Service and the Master of the High Court.

His relationship with Zuma, who he helped bring to power in 2007, declined at high speed.

Despite the damaging revelations and his shaky relationship with Zuma, the ANC did not hesitate to use the crowd-pulling youngster for its trudging election campaign.

But Malema also used the elections platform to attack Zuma.

In February, during the launch of the party’s elections manifesto in Rustenburg, he slammed Zuma’s close relationship with the Gupta family.

He said: “When families are exploiting the resources of this country and are enriching themselves in the name of freedom, when those in political office abuse their power to benefit friends, the youth must rise in defence of the ANC.”

His pre-election taunts extended to opposition DA leader Helen Zille, whom he called a “madam”, and the party’s then spokesperson, Lindiwe Mazibuko, who he called a “tea girl”.

Malema also had the ANC’s backing in AfriForum’s Equality Court case against him for singing Dubula iBhunu.

Party bigwigs like Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Gwede Mantashe and Collins Chabane came to his defence.

In June, Malema’s leadership was endorsed by the league when he was unanimously re-elected by delegates at the league’s conference.

But the ANC’s patience with Malema ran dry in August.

The party’s disciplinary committee pressed charges against him and fellow youth league leaders.

This was, among others things, for saying the league wanted to help effect regime change in Botswana and for comparing Zuma’s leadership in Africa unfavourably to former president Thabo Mbeki’s.

October brought a highlight when Malema led the league’s economic freedom march from Johannesburg to Pretoria, walking a great
part of it himself.

Straight from there he flew to Mauritius to attend the wedding of businessman David Mabila (who had paid money into his trust account), where he was spotted wearing a flashy purple suit with model Lizelle Tabane on his arm.

Last weekend’s re-election of his close ally, Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale, as ANC provincial chair is a massive psychological boost for Malema – even if the victory was with 82 votes.

Malema’s own election to Limpopo’s provincial executive committee suggests he is plotting a new career in ANC politics, which could even be launched from his homeland up north.

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