Malema walks in Zuma’s shoes

2012-04-07 00:00

EXACTLY a week ago, President Jacob Zuma was attending church on the South Coast, where he urged congregants to pray for “disrespectful youth”.

It was the day after pugnacious youth leader Julius Malema labelled him a dictator at a centenary lecture at Wits.

Zuma’s response was simple: “Please pray for the youth of South Africa to learn to respect their elders. Do not judge them, pray for them because if you do not, the future of this country will be very bleak.”

Fast-forward to Tuesday this week. Now it was not only a call for prayer, but throwing the rule book at Malema — again.

Malema was summarily suspended for his dictator comment and banned from speaking on public platforms or attending party meetings as ANCYL president or Limpopo executive committee member.

Threatening legal action, Malema’s youth league responded with their own version of a Good Friday “defiance campaign”.

And like Zuma himself had done during his pre-Polokwane days of “victimhood”, Malema too turned to the church.

It was the holiest day of the Christian calendar and Malema, escorted by VIP protection, visited two Butterworth churches.

He did not speak at the first church.

While there was no direct talk of crucifixion, the symbolism was clear.

According to the Daily Dispatch online, Malema told worshippers at a second service at the Last Move Ministries that he was not there to talk politics.

He said: “When everything is difficult out there the only safe place is church because in church you don’t discriminate. We want the church to pray for us because those that used to be our friends, have turned against us. They have not only turned against us, but plan our death. You have an obligation, bishop, that what they plan does not succeed.”

Malema also explained he was not turning to the church because he was scared. “The emotion of fear in me has disappeared. I do not care what they say in my name and want to do against me.”

He added he would stand up against injustice.

However, Malema also asked the bishop to pray “for our leaders to have patience, to be tolerant, and to love their children”.

“Because every family will always have children, and whatever discussion you can have with your children, you don’t chase them away from home.”

Malema’s next request drew applause from the crowd: “Also bishop, we ask that you give us the wisdom so that we know the old and young people. And also that we respect the old people because without the old people the young ones will become the lost generation.”

Malema made reference to slain hero Solomon Mahlangu, and Jesus Christ, saying they gave their lives for what they believed in. “We are all inspired by fearless people,” he said.

But Malema vowed he would not be silenced.

“I will never be silenced. There is nobody who has a right to silence me. The right to speak was given to me from the day I was born.”

Earlier clergyman Caesar Nongqunga counselled Malema to seek peace instead of fighting with the ANC.

Nongqunga said all conflict came about because of a need for power.

“You must be careful that — when you have amassed all the riches, and you have all the power — you are [not] alone. It won’t be enjoyable because there will be no one to sing your praises.”

ANC national disicplinary committee chairman Derek Hanekom yesterday tried to to play down’s Malema’s apparent defiance.

“We cannot bar him from speaking at a church service, as long as he makes clear he is not doing so as leader of the youth league.

“He is already expelled and it’s going on appeal. A temporary suspension hangs over his head. We can’t tie him up and throw him in jail.”

While the ANCYL issued an official statement saying its president would attend a service at The Twelve Apostles Church, it made no mention of the Last Move Ministries service where Malema actually spoke.

In this way, the league could argue that Malema was indeed speaking in his personal capacity at the latter service.

It was a chorus that ANCYL Eastern Cape secretary Mzonke Ndabeni also sang.

The invitation and Malema’s comments were not made in his official capacity as youth league president, but were “merely those of an ordinary man who attended a church service”, he said.

“People can’t just stop a person from speaking in a democratic country,” said Ndabeni.

On the other side of the country, Zuma addresed the party’s Mpumlanga elective conference where he reportedly called for unity.

In a two-hour address, Zuma also pledged to ensure the survival of the ANC for another century.

The SABC reported that delegates were warned to stop chanting slogans against others delegates.

He said factionalism needed to be rooted out and warned members not to be “friends of gossipers” or “people who move in cliques”.

Malema’s appeal against his expulsion will be heard on Tuesday, the day Zuma turns 70.

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