He became ANCYL President in 2008 after defeating Saki Mofokeng in a controversial elective conference. My friend Tshepo “Skhaf” Seema asked me if this new boy from Limpopo would be able to maintain the radicalism of Fikile “Vutha” Mbalula. I told Tshepo that if you thought Mbaks was radical, then wait until you hear from this new boy. What Mbaks was doing is Sunday school picnic. This was informed by my observation of him when he was Cosas president in 2001.
Within a week in office, he was in the news for making the controversial statement that ANC must support Zanu-PF and that they should however encourage the “dictator old man” to step down and give a chance to a youthful leadership in Zanu-PF. Looking at it now, this strategy could have worked well had Zanu-PF adopted it.
He spearheaded the removal of Mbeki who wanted a 3rd term for god knows why. Since then, he’s been in the news for “controversial” statements and insults.
However, one thing defined his tenure as the youth league president: the fight for transformation. His youth league calls it Economic Freedom. He went against the tradition and culture that was adopted at Codesa, where the ANC through Mandela and Ramaphosa assured the whites that the constitution would protect minority privilege. That ANC would adopt mixed economic policies and push for transformation through legislations such as BEE and AA.
Julius Malema-led ANC Youth League went against this. He called for youth development; free education but most importantly for the nationalization of mines and the expropriation of the white-owned land without compensation. The call for the nationalization of mines put him at a collision course against the media, captains of industry, government and the ANC leadership.
Govt ministers and ANC leaders did not waste time before they came out to assure “investors” that nationalization would never happen. Minister responsible for the mines, Susan Shabangu, came out publicly and to tell all and sundry that nationalization would happen over her dead body.
President of the ANC and the country, Jacob Zuma together with the secretary of the ANC Gwede Mantashe came out and assured the media that nationalization is not the policy of the ANC. This despite the fact that the guiding document of the ANC, the Freedom Charter calls for the nationalization of mines and all the commanding heights of the economy.
From here it became clear that his life and his future were no longer save in the ANC. Even the General Secretary of the South African Communist Party, a person you would expect to support the ANC Youth League calls, came out to rubbish Malema. In his usual big English, he called him a demagogue and convinced those willing to listen to him that Julius wants nationalization for the “New Tendency.” It’s not clear what this word means.
The SG’s deputy, Jeremy Cronin, sarcastically ridiculed that ANC/YL confuses nationalization with “bling bling.” Those from the so-called black radical movements in the country, who like to make noise about the ANC being a sell-out and so on, refused to support Julius. They too, said that they won’t support the calls for radical change if they are made by Julius. Some even said that they cannot support anyone from ANC who makes these calls. It would seem that their hate, or suspicion rather, for ANC-the organization, would blind them from any progressive demands made by any member of the ANC. My suspicion is that they feel that the spotlight is being taken away from them. If any member of the ANC calls for the same things they claim to fight for, they won’t have anything to accuse ANC and all its members with.
I can go on and on, but one thing will remain, Julius was given an opportunity, and in a short period of 5 years, he called for the things that ANC has failed to call for in their entire 18 years of democratic rule. He has changed the face of South African politics; one hopes for ever.
To Juju, one can only say, look at the history of the ANC. It is littered with many cases like yours. Too many people have been kicked out for making similar demands. Chris Hani was nearly killed in 1963 for making similar demands at Morogoro conference. In 1993 he was killed. The circumstances around his death are still a mistry.
However one thing is certain, this too shall pass. ANC will be saved.
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