Julius seems to be in a different league

2009-10-31 17:05

JULIUS Malema’s political star ­appears to be rising daily – he has shared platforms with President Jacob Zuma three times this week and was anointed as a future leader by the country’s leader.

In Limpopo, Malema holds real political power, with both allies and detractors describing him as the de facto premier in a province run by his ally Cassel Mathale. Malema’s next step is to become Limpopo premier but for now he has positioned himself as the ANC Youth League’s face of service delivery, commenting on burning national issues.

Yesterday, the Malema-Zuma team attended a rally to mark the league’s 65th anniversary at ­Mthatha’s Rotary Stadium in the Eastern Cape. At the rally – which was attended by about 10 000 ­people?– Malema suggested that Zuma increase the minimum alcohol purchase age to 21. He also called on Zuma to do more about education.

Last Saturday, the two attended an ANC Youth League dinner at the Johannesburg Country Club, where star athletes Caster Semenya, Khotso Mokoena and Mbulaeni Mulaudzi – all from Malema’s home province of Limpopo – were honoured.

Zuma showered Malema with praise this week when he visited ­Seshego, the youth league president’s township, saying he was a “leader in the making” and worthy of “inheriting the ANC”.

Just days before he was to be part of the ANC leadership that sealed the fate of Sakhile mayor Juliet Radebe-Khumalo and her executive, Malema told the nation Zuma had “warned him to behave” when he visited the service delivery hotspot. Clearly, Zuma had briefed Malema ahead of the trip.

This week, Malema’s national profile received a boost when he saved University of Free State boss Jonathan Jansen from an apparent government and ANC onslaught.

In Limpopo, more than 10 allies and rivals of Malema agree that he is really in charge of the provincial government.

ANC and government sources say his word in the premier’s office is final, and that he influences who gets tenders and jobs.
Various tripartite alliance leaders claim it is no longer a secret that Malema wants to take over from Joe Maswanganyi as ANC provincial secretary at the next conference in 2012. They say he sees this as a ­stepping stone towards succeeding Mathale as provincial chair in 2016, and later as premier.

Malema has denied this, saying: “I will never contest Joe.”

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