Hlengiwe Mnguni

Who's afraid of Julius Malema?

2010-05-13 09:25

Hlengiwe Mnguni

Is embarrassment a foreign concept to the ANC? Surely they must know how bad it looks for them when all the punishment they are able to dish out to Julius Malema is a fine, an apology and classes?

Despite the opinions of analysts, I still hoped that for once that the ANC would be firmer. I had hoped the ANC would not relegate South Africans to the role of spectators in the unending drama of political sparring within the ruling party.

I had hoped the country's irritation with Malema would be enough for them to rise up out of party politics and show not only South Africans, but also the world, that the ANC is bigger than party politics.

I had hoped they would realise that as a party elected to govern, their first responsibility lies with the people they govern.

That the disappointment of millions of people should be sacrificed for the sake of one man whose contribution to society still remains unclear erodes the party's credibility even more.

I had hoped at least for a suspension. But like the ANC is always quick to remind people on Malema: It's an internal matter. And that excuse has worn thin with outsiders.

The ANC has had a lot of time to adjust to the reality of not being a liberation movement answerable only to itself.

Malema has insulted the dignity of multitudes of people, organisations and sections of the South African population.

That it took an unflattering comparison of Jacob Zuma to Thabo Mbeki to get some reaction from the ANC shows up the ANC as a party obsessed with itself.

The sanctity fragile national unity can be shattered with little consequence, but the image of the President of the ANC is sacred seems to be the message.

While the ANC has a lot that it can be proud of, but its descent into a position where the kingmaker of formidable men and women turns out to be a crude youth leader should be cause for embarrassment.
What a pity the ANC is scared of Julius Malema. He would have made the perfect sacrifice in a South Africa where racial tensions have suddenly flared - with some help from him.

But perhaps the ANC leadership knows what it is doing. They are more likely to know Malema better than the rest of us.

Perhaps while they seem to bow down to their own internal pressures to let him off lightly, there are some that  know better than most that two years will be too long for Malema to bottle up a part of his personality that has become his trademark.

By putting him on probation of sorts they have perhaps ensured that in the very near future Malema will use the rope they have given him to hang himself.

But even if that is true, they should still be embarrassed that it has come to this.

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