It’s showtime as Malema plays to the gallery

2012-09-27 00:00

IT WAS pure theatre inside and outside Polokwane Regional Court yesterday, and South Africans would have been forgiven for thinking they had seen it all before.

Except this time the accused was expelled ANC leader Julius Malema, who again proclaimed his innocence to hundreds of his supporters outside court,

He was earlier granted R10 000 bail on a charge of money laundering totalling R4,2 million and will be back in court on November 30, two weeks before the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung.

And whereas a mere four years ago Malema was chief praise singer when Jacob Zuma was facing charges of corruption — being even prepared to kill for his hero — this time he blamed Zuma for leading a conspiracy against him. That was the very charge he had made against then President Thabo Mbeki for using the courts and the National Prosecuting Authority to undermine Zuma.

“I am aware that senior government officials ... have agitated law enforcement authorities to expedite my arrest and detain me as a means of trying to silence and disrupt the political activities I am involved in,” Malema said yesterday.

In what has now become his trademark public denigration of Zuma, Malema labelled the president an ­illiterate leader of a “banana republic”.

With a week to go before the ANC’s nomination process opens for the party’s national leadership, Malema again called for Zuma to be removed as president at Mangaung and repeated that he should be charged again with corruption.

Surrounded by bodyguards and supporters, Malema claimed that the absence of corruption and fraud charges in the preliminary charge sheet against him indicated that the case was politically motivated.

He claimed that the money laundering charge he faces was not “very serious”, a view immediately refuted by Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela.

“Money laundering is not a frivolous charge, and it can incur a sentence of 15 years,” said Polela.

With Zuma at the United Nations in New York, it was left to the ANC’s spokesperson, Jackson Mthembu, to paint the expelled ANC youth league leader as the democratic equivalent of prime evil.

Even the “shrinking group of people” who supported Malema would realise they were supporting a monster, said Mthembu.

And in a rhetorical question, Mthembu asked whether anyone could imagine what would happen if Malema became president of South Africa.

“… may that day not happen in our lifetime nor in the lifetime of our children,” he said.

Interviewed on TV channel eNCA, Mthembu said Malema should never have been a member of the ANC, because he was a bad person and his actions in court showed the ANC was right in having given him the boot.

Mthembu also demanded that Malema stop prescribing whether Zuma should be nominated for a second terms as ANC president.

“He [Malema] is not even a member of the ANC. He cannot nominate anyone,” Mthembu said, adding that members joined the ANC voluntarily, but on condition they subscribe to certain values. “Julius could not do this,” Mthembu said.

He also warned any leaders who wanted to work with Malema in a team that they should think again.

This is seen as a thinly veiled warning to Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa, Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula and others.

While Malema would seem to support a leader now, in three years he could swing around and support himself, Mthembu said.

He rejected Malema’s claims that ANC leaders were conspiring against him and using the courts and the prosecution service to neutralise him.

“We reject this accusation with contempt, as it is misleading and seeking to undermine the rule of law and jurisprudence of the country. We want to appeal to our structures and to all South Africans to refrain from using inflammatory and unsubstantiated accusations against the ANC and the government agencies.”

Mthembu denied that Zuma, the ANC or its leadership had a role in the charges against Malema.

Malema, meanwhile, made clear he would not be deterred with his political programme, including speaking to miners protesting for better wages. He plans to visit the North West today to show solidarity with the workers there.

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