Malema changes the game

2011-10-29 07:59

It is quite possible that Julius Malema’s ­intentions to lead the youth to the JSE on Thursday and to the Union Buildings on Friday were not honourable.

Knowing that Malema is himself involved in a company that has monopolised state tenders in Limpopo and that he is building a multimillion-rand home not far from the first stop of the march, it is easy to water down the Freedom in Our Lifetime marches as Malema’s desperate ­attempt to save his political skin.

We think the marches were a game-changer. Never before has post-apartheid South Africa ­witnessed the youth organising themselves to ­protest against their continued marginalisation.

It was no Arab Spring moment and neither does it have the legs of Occupy Wall Street, but it is a seismic shift in raising the issue of ­unemployment among the youth, and exposing deep and entrenched inequalities.

The options before us as a nation and for our government are therefore clear. The state will pay lip service to the feelings of exclusion by our young people at its peril.

Just like the ­anti-apartheid mantra was that none is free until all are free, economic freedom for some is ­economic security for none in the long term.

The middle classes and detractors can choose to focus on Malema’s intentions and point out his hypocrisy. However, they will be missing the ­bigger picture. The young are restless and getting more so by the day. They want to see change now.

In fairness, the state, through projects such as the Gauteng Y-Age youth entrepreneurship and the R9?billion jobs fund, appears to be aware of and doing something about this.

But unless and until real urgency is seen, the marches to the JSE and the Union Buildings may not always be as peaceful as we saw this week.

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