Step forward, President Malema

2009-10-31 13:29

NEVER mind the question of whether ANC Youth League president Julius Malema will become president one day. He is already de facto president.

Consider this. Lekwa municipality mayor Juliet Radebe-Khumalo, who presided over the collapse of services in ­Sakhile in Standerton, probably deserved to get the chop. But by no stretch of governance was it Malema’s job to fire her. Yet her marching orders were delivered by a group that ­included the youth firebrand.

A fortnight later the political fire moved to the Free State, where University of Free State vice-chancellor Professor Jonathan Jansen walked into a storm by dropping internal charges against four students who made a racist video in which five black cleaners employed by the university were humiliated.

Jansen has now won his ­political absolution from none other than Malema. Never mind that Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande and his director-general, Mary Metcalfe, feel differently.

To all intents and purposes this nation appeared to be waiting for what Malema had to say to take its cue. It is as if he is already president. But he’s not.

He is the president of the ANC Youth League and we have another president called Jacob Zuma. But he is once again absent from all the big ­issues facing his government.

While Zuma visited Balfour when that Mpumalanga community went up in flames, he is AWOL again. His advisers probably told him not to visit any hotspots. So who did he send in the next round of protests? Malema, whom he also anointed as a future leader of the ANC this week albeit with a few caveats.

There is another crucial area where Zuma’s absence of clarity is sowing confusion. This is in the arena of economic policy.

Supporters of Economic ­Development Minister Ebrahim Patel insist he is in charge while others quote chapter and legal verse to show the direction of policy is set by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Some say the finance minister retains control of the purse strings while others believe ­Zuma will soon pass a constitutional amendment to alter control of economic policy so that the paradigm is determined by Patel.

Who knows except our president, who this week said the person in charge didn’t really matter as the governing party was the one that set policy anyway? This deference to a party that is a broad church is a ­recipe for the kind of governing confusion we are experiencing right now.

Leadership matters because we are still in mid-recession if this week’s job loss figures are anything to go by. But we are being led by a young man whose key economic policy plan is a programme to nationalise mines.

And with his delegated political power that may very well happen.

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