Khaya Dlanga

Malema and Mbeki Bromance

2011-06-07 09:17

Khaya Dlanga

A bromance is a close but non-sexual relationship between two (or more) men.

Does Julius Malema regret supporting Jacob Zuma over Thabo Mbeki?

Does Malema miss Mbeki? Or are the things he is saying a reflection of what some are thinking in the ANC? Maybe the ANC actually misses the former the president and Malema is just the man with big balls enough to go out and say his name in public repeatedly.

It seems there has been a shyness and reluctance to mention the name of the former president ever since Zuma defeated him in Polokwane those many moons ago. Of course Malema is not one given to shyness.

That awkward moment when Malema said "Mbeki is the best leader the ANC has ever produced... the most educated and clever," while Jacob Zuma is still president happened on Sunday. And it was not the first time he said something to that effect. At one point even Mbeki, having differed with the youth league and the youth league taking such firm radical positions against him, I have never seen him doing that before. This after Zuma had called a press conference and said Malema’s behaviour towards a BBC journalist was alien to the ANC.

There is nothing new in Malema publicly sharing his bromantic feeling for Thabo Mbeki. On October 30 2009 in Mthatha, Malema even compared Mbeki to the likes of Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu. So it surprises me when people are shocked when he heaps praise on Thabo Mbeki. He has probably mentioned Mbeki’s name more often than president Zuma in public. Perhaps Zuma has mentioned Mbeki more times in private, possibly accompanied by expletives too. I kid, I kid.

When the Young Communist League said that Mbeki should be prosecuted for his government's failure to provide South Africans with life-saving anti-retroviral drugs in 2009, Malema jumped to the former president’s defence by saying: “That will never happen. If there are those harbouring those interests then you must know that we are going to part ways. You will never touch one of our own,'' then went further to say, “he tried to provide solutions to the problem of HIV and Aids. He said what he said in trying to find solutions to the problem.”

Some people were calling Malema an opportunist when he said that Mbeki is the best leader the ANC has ever produced. Ironically, Malema said this while the man he helped replace Mbeki is still in power. The knives are out for Zuma and Malema is not afraid of showing them and sharpening them in public. The ANC will elect a new NEC and possibly new president in 2012. Are these Malema’s first warning shots to Zuma? Maybe Malema is very unsubtly saying, “I made you, bitch. And I can undo you.”

Malema is clearly going to be re-elected ANCYL president this month. He has taken down one president of the ANC, he probably feels that if he can take down “the most educated and clever” ANC president, he can certainly take down a not so educated one. Not that he said that, but a lot can be said in what is unsaid.

Perhaps Malema is frustrated by not knowing where this president stands. The president has been at the helm of the country for more than two years now and we still don’t know what he stands for. We knew Mandela stood for national reconciliation. Mbeki stood for economic liberation and Africa determining its own future. A leader without a vision for his people is soon forgotten when his time is up.

Maybe Zuma really was the accidental president. And Mbeki made him one. Maybe we can put the blame on my idol, Mbeki. Perhaps by not having a clear succession plan, this is how we ended up where we are.

Zuma is not a bad leader. Maybe he has a lot of self-doubt because of the manner in which he came into power. The people who brought him there can easily take him down. Maybe he is worried that they might say to him, “Remember you promised you’d only be president for one term, well buddy, it’s time to honour that promise.”

Allow me to quote from a blog I wrote soon after Zuma was elected president of the ANC, Is Zuma Weak Or Just Being Used?

"This is what I expect from my leader:

I want to know what my leader stands for. I don’t want to hear him say one thing today and the opposite tomorrow.

I don’t want a leader who stands just for his own survival. I want a leader who will make sure that I, along with 46-million odd South Africans, don’t just survive but thrive.

I don’t want a leader who follows the public mood, but one who shapes it.

I want a leader who will tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear.

I don’t want a leader who thinks that he can get away with answering tough questions by laughing. He should be arrogant enough to say, “I refuse to answer this question,” or, “This interview is over, Mr Journalist Person. Your question crossed the line.”

Zuma, man up! Be the president we know you can be. Stop trying to appease every interest group out there and take your power back!"


The tone of the blog was a bit harsh and not as respectful as it could have been; that I admit. I like Zuma as a person and I bet one could learn a lot from him. You don’t get to where Zuma is by being in idiot. No sir. There are many people who aspire to be president, and he is one in 49 million who actually became one. Don’t underestimate this man. Yes, you too Julius Malema. Don’t underestimate him.

One more thing, Mr President, please let us know what you stand for. Unfortunately many people seem to think you stand for the enrichment of your family. Your legacy depends on a vision you pronounce for the nation you lead. We’re waiting.

- Follow Khaya on Twitter.

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