In the book, An Inconvenient Youth: Julius Malema and the ‘New ANC’ (2011), Irish journalist Fiona Forde finds that expelled ANC member and former ANC Youth League president Julius Sello Malema “looks at life as a man with an opponent”. In his understanding, Forde argues, there is always an enemy.
Ever since his dubious election as president of the Youth League in Mangaung in 2008, Malema has always created superficial enemies in his mind. In a move that has divided the Youth League and the communists, Malema perceived the leaders of both the SACP and its youth wing as his enemies. The white minorities were also regarded as enemies. But this enmity ended as soon as the ANC disciplined him. In one platform he reportedly said, “I will die defending whites”.
After realizing how he will die fending whites, Malema now became a victim of a new form of paranoia: he perceived the ANC as his enemy. He started referring to the ANC as “they” and “them”. He referred to himself and his supporters as “we” and “us”. This tendency exposed Malema’s incapacity to lead the ANC structures at any level. It laid bare the young man’s unsuitability to be a member of the ANC. After much consideration, the ANC expectedly expelled him from within its ranks. After all, ANC is a voluntary organization governed by its own Constitution.
Malema and the ‘new tendency’
ANC Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe argues that the distance between the governors and the governed, amongst others, creates a vacuum that often allow the emergence of a ‘new tendency’. This he calls the “sins of incumbency”.
In his article, New Tendencies and Organizational Discipline (ANC Today, Vol 11 No 20; 27 May – 2 June 2011), ANC member and Senior Political Science Tutor at the University of Kwazulu Natal, cde Thembinkosi “Guerilla” Zondi, names, inter alia, the following as examples or elements of the ‘new tendency’;
§ substitution and the relegation of political logic and robust but comradely debates to name-calling
§ politics of money and greedy (sic);
§ members of other members
§ marginalisation of politically-clear cadres in favour of (politically weak) new members who are easy prey for manipulation;
§ the use of the organisation to accumulate wealth to overcome personal inconveniences such as unemployment
The Secretary General of the South African Students’ Organization (SASCO), cde Lazola Ndamase, argues that the ‘new tendency’, are in fact Pseudo-Communists who pose as working class revolutionaries. These right wing elements of our movement, cde Ndamase argues, claim to the have the most genuine interests of the working class, when in fact they are using working class organization for economic upward mobility.
It becomes clear that the ‘new tendency’ is a new stratum in the movement that is destroying the organization from within. The ‘new tendency’ is led by members of the movement whose goals are personal, rather than organizational. When they shout above the voices and say: Economic Freedom in our lifetime, they are referring to themselves alone and not the masses of our poor and destitute.
Julius Malema, who owns multiple properties, farmlands, stock, and is a trustee of a lucrative Trust Fund, went to various informal settlements and lobbied the poor communities to join his March for ‘economic freedom’. The people were told to march so as to get better services from government and wealth from the masters of capital.
When addressing these masses, he used working class rhetoric, even though he himself is a lumpen-bourgeois. Immediately after the march, Malema and his other friends went and joined other lumpen-bourgeosies at a multi-million Rands wedding ceremony in Mauritius; a perfect example of the ‘new tendency’.
Crushing the new tendency: The centre must hold
The ‘new tendency’ is a very weak political force. Its defeat is a very easy project since it operates in a veil of secrecy. Save for a few bold elements, most notable Julius Malema, this tendency never operates during the day, under the watchful eye of all and sundry. In order for the movement to clip the wings of the tendency, its representatives must be crushed beyond recognition.
Since their mentors never show their faces in public, the spokespersons must be silenced. The whole movement must be united in pushing elements of the ‘new tendency’ to the periphery. Any form of disunity is a fertile loophole for them. So we must unite and rally around the decisions of the structures of the organization. The principle of democratic centralism requires us to respect and appreciate the decisions of the higher structures like the NWC, the NDC, and so on.
Julius Malema is undoubtedly the most prudent representative and leader of the ‘new tendency’ in the movement. Rather than working with the Communists, the ‘new tendency’ unleashes unprecedented vitriol at working class organizations. These attacks are intended to say to the people; “I am the real Communist. I speak for the poor. Never mind the SACP. I am the new Communist.”
In the meantime, the ‘new tendency’ wants to accumulate and eat as much as possible. He does not care about the people. He only cares about himself. The ‘new tendency’ is a neo-liberal force no different from the Democratic Alliance. It is not accountable to the people, but to their greedy masters, whose sole interest in capital accumulation.
The decision to expel Malema must be confirmed without any hesitation. Branches of the Youth League must then call for a special Congress to elect a new president, or the new leadership, depending on branches’ evaluation of the current leadership’s suitability to hold office. All structures of the ANC, from branch executives to the NEC, must ensure that all elements of the ‘new tendency’ are crushed. The ANC must prevail. The centre must hold.