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Zuma vs Malema

11 November 2011, 07:03

Zuma, the president of the African National Congress (ANC) versus Malema, the president of African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL), political battle is an intriguing one because both leaders are streetwise. They do not follow books or the conventional “ten steps to success.” Rather, through their rhetoric, they evoke desired responses from people; if they do not get desired ends, they change their tactics. If they sense that they are going to lose the battle as a result of “professional/civilized/office” imperatives, they take the battle to the street, where rules of engagement are minimal, or different from formal rules.

For example, one might argue that Mbeki, the former president, was bound to lose against Zuma because of his reliance on the knowledge gained from Western education imperatives and a command of the English language, which is not necessarily a prerequisite for revolutionary leadership. However, it is sometimes sufficient to create an illusion that you know how to help the downtrodden, which can impart a strong resonance amongst the camps of those who document arguments with empirical findings and academic talk. However, these academic groupings sometimes lack the capacity to read social interactions on the ground and appreciate the fact that people care more about their immediate needs.

On the other hand, Zuma took battle to the streets with “Ushmini Wami” where the rules of engagement are fluid. He danced amongst those people who gladly joined the dance of freedom with the man who probably does not know how to use the Harvard reference style; instead, he knows what it’s like to be hungry and how to find solutions as the needs demand. The man who was unable to sit in class and learn the Western ways of doing things. He shares the same upbringing of many South Africans. His sexual prowess became the embodiment of that which is real and authentic, a weakness shared by many, and he did not deny his love for that which has been put on a pedestal for centuries.

He also did not promise to exercise any restraints below or rather sexual desires, which is why he was forgiven for impregnating Irvine Khoza’s daughter outside of wedlock. This sexual behaviour is also justifiable within the bounds of cultural norms and Zulu stereotypes, suggesting that Zulus do not let anything go unpunished. As a result, this contextualised his sexual fallibility, which is sometimes seen as a global weakness or phenomenon, one that Bill Clinton knows well. In essence, Zuma’s sexual behaviour is not at all a local reality: It’s a global one, especially in the political world. Those who are not in polygamous relationships do things outside their one-partner relationship or institutionalised sexual behaviours.  This is understandable amongst the “weak” and sexual freelancers.  

Upon his inception into the presidential office, Zuma shifted his game plan from the streets to the books. Aware of his shortcomings, he invited men and women who knew how to drive the train with him to come aboard, collaborating with streetwise leaders on one end and those disciplined by formal education on the other hand. Consequently, this has allowed for careful manoeuvring of the entire nation suffering from the reality of economic recession. Zuma’s new game plan also brought with it the unprecedented arrival of the National Planning Commission, which has offered a clearer of view of the status quo. This National Planning Commission is now positioned to inform all government, civil society, and private sector emancipatory strategic efforts.

Meanwhile, Malema is also streetwise; during his latest ANC disciplinary preliminary proceedings, he tried to justify his actions through his lawyers who implemented constitutional demands and procedures, however, with no success. He then decided to take his cause to the streets, which is where those eager to vent their frustrations of suffering had met with him, and limped together all the way to Pretoria. Their efforts symbolically represented the impaired lives of many young people. Unfortunately, such efforts were unable to materially change their situation overnight.

Nevertheless, streets appear to be more powerful and Malema is now pretty much on an even par with Zuma, in terms of power.

On the other hand, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe appears to like the idea of becoming South Africa’s president again, since his previous term was short lived as a result of Zuma. However, he is smart enough not to embarrass himself; because he knows very well of the political shrewdness that exists on the streets. He is carefully observing the movements of the tides before he makes his official appearance.

Malema is ever mindful of the man who, having survived corruption and rape charges, ascended to the most contested helm of the ANC, is the man he must watch closely.

Here’s how I see the coming months:

•  Malema will appeal the verdict, get one-year suspicion instead of five and finish his youth league presidential term.

•  Zuma and Malema will agree to disagree because they have demonstrated to one another their capacity to destroy each other.

•  Zuma is likely to get his second term if the score or power remains even and comrade Motlanthe must wait another five years.

•  Tokyo might consider going back to business.

•  Mbalula will probably zip up and enjoy his sport ministry.

•  Mantashe is likely to continue to represent his inside the powerful.

Zuma government is now entering a new phase where it no longer about pleasing political allies, but implementing the growth path and make South Africa a better place for all. However, the Malema alternative voice is still needed to expose inequalities and distract the capitalist project, which cares little about the downtrodden.

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