Send Malema to Davos

2011-06-29 00:00

COMRADES, it is time to be counter-revolutionaries. We must counter the revolution of the youth against the wisdom of their elders.

Our youth need education about the benefits or detriments of nationalisation. What better place to do the teaching than the World Economic Forum (WEF)?

Founder and owner of the WEF Professor Klaus Schwab is fond of claiming Nelson Mandela as a great success story.

Mandela himself once explained in his inimitable accent and self-deprecatory style:

“I came to Davos convinced I would explain to these rich business people why it was essential for South Africa to nationalise the mines.

“They had a dinner where they listened to me very politely, before explaining to me exactly what would happen if we carried out the plans we made in prison.

“I went to bed thinking [that] while I had been out of the real world for 27 years, things had changed.

“Nobody told me I was stupid. But I could see that they thought I was not very clever.

“I woke up the next day and realised nationalisation would be the wrong policy for my country.”

Schwab is fond of claiming Mandela’s conversion as one of Davos’s tangible successes, especially when people suggest that Davos is just a talking shop.

Wealthy business people,

powerful global political leaders and other elites who flock to

Davos are great fans of former president Mandela.

One year I was lucky enough to hear former British prime minister Tony Blair talk for an hour, followed by former United States president Bill Clinton, followed by former SA president Mandela.

Blair is a brilliant speaker. He started by getting a laugh when he said his speech was about global warming, a difficult topic made impossible by the fact that his helicopter had been delayed because of unusually heavy snow, and even the road into Davos was cut two metres deep into the snow.

After an excellent speech, he received a good, hearty and

polite round of applause.

Clinton was great. He has an ability to get an audience on his side immediately — despite his secret service agents having tried to clear the hall for sniffer dogs, and the secret service being met by a chorus of “Hell no, We won’t go!” chanted by the world’s top business moguls, behaving like undergraduates.

One of them, about 60 years old, turned to me gleefully and said: “These goons don’t realise we are the generation that invented protests.”

Clinton was followed by Mandela­.

As our president walked across the stage, the hall of about 1 500 people rose to give him a five-minute standing


“Next year,” said Mandela, “you will meet me outside this hall. I will carry a poster reading, ‘No job, no money, new wife, big family to support’.”

His remark “please help me” was drowned out with laughter and more sustained applause.

After his short speech, he received another five-minute standing ovation.

Chairing the session, Schwab said all the time for questions had been taken up with standing ovations, so he was going to use his executive authority to ask one question: “What saying, or piece of advice, Mr President, could you give to us here, for the future, from your past experience?”

As a South African sitting in that audience, I just hoped our president would not say some simple thing that might embarrass him or us.

Silly me.

“Klaus,” said Mandela, “I may be old, but I am not stupid. These are the richest and

cleverest people in the world. I would not dream of giving them advice. It is their advice on how to make money that I am here to get.”

Thunderous applause. Standing ovation. Much nodding and shaking of Swiss and other heads. All in agreement, Mandela was truly a global statesman with stage presence.

Now to bra Julius Malema.

Conventional wisdom suggests he is no fool. He has stage presence. He can mix with the elite. He would find Davos fascinating, and Davosiers would find him equally intriguing.

If the WEF is truly “committed to improving the state of the world” — and I believe it is — it may just make an impact on our little world if it took the re-education of Malema upon itself.

As a Jewish momma might opine: it may not help, but it couldn’t hurt.


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