‘When Julius knocks, you give him money before he asks’

2012-08-25 21:23

Three months after the formation of the Friends of the Youth League (FYL), the organisation is reaching out to the poor working class.

The FYL was originally formed to create a platform for expelled ANC Youth League (ANCYL) leader Julius Malema from which to drive his campaign to oust ANC President Jacob Zuma.

This week the FYL made its first major intervention into new territory by visiting Marikana, the scene of the massacre at which 34 mine workers were killed by police.

The FYL hosted a memorial service on Thursday, thwarting government’s plans to hold its own event.

The organisation also laid murder charges against police for shooting mine workers and organised lawyers to represent arrested workers.
What remains a mystery, though, is the FYL’s source of income to finance its programmes.

Limpopo property developer Matome Hlabioa of MPPJ Property Development has emerged as one of its main financial backers.

Hlabioa, who admitted last year to buying a luxury Range Rover for Malema, is also said to have hosted FYL meetings at his Mekete Lodge in Mankweng.

Hlabioa confirmed he owned Mekete Lodge, but denied hosting the FYL.

“They have never met at my place,” he said, despite two independent sources confirming at least one meeting took place at the lodge.
Malema has been known to hold lavish parties at the same venue.

Hlabioa later sent a text message to a City Press reporter: “But whoever you are talking to, let them know if they need to use the place it will always be available for them.”

Though the FYL does not want to name its bankrollers, the organisation is “not short of funders”, according to a Gauteng ANCYL regional leader.

He said most of its funders owed their political and business success to Malema for his support while he was still in power.

“It is a closely knit group that Malema knows very well. Businesspeople open their pockets to fund events, but they may not want to be seen to avoid being isolated,” said the regional leader.

Malema is currently under investigation by the Hawks and the SA Revenue Service for receiving large amounts of cash through his Ratanang Family Trust.

Using donations, the FYL was able to fly Malema and spokesperson Floyd Shivambu to London during the Olympics, fund a campus tour to tertiary institutions and host Thursday’s Marikana memorial service.

“Public sympathy plays a key role in getting these resources,” said the government source, who works with the FYL.

An ANC member who was a spin doctor for the party in one of KwaZulu-Natal’s regions, said the FYL enjoyed the support of “silent sympathisers” in the ANC and in the ANCYL leadership.

“A lot of people owe Julius favours. When his people come knocking, you give them money or you do it voluntarily, even before they ask,” said the source.

Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini said the FYL was “nothing but a political party in the making”.

But to many, the FYL is no different from the Friends of Jacob Zuma, an organisation Zuma used to raise funds and campaign against his legal woes, and later as a campaign vehicle for the ANC presidency.

The FYL’s Twitter profile sends a clear message: It is “a platform to preach economic freedom and raise the voice that some want to silence.”
One of the FYL’s biggest goals, according to the organisation’s activists, is to “deliver Malema in Mangaung as an invited guest”.

This could be done, they believe, by getting him an invitation from one of the businesses that buys exhibition space at the ANC conference.

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