The world according to Julius Malema

2009-09-17 15:06

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Well-known journalists Max du Preez and Mandy Rossouw have compiled a range of about 80 famous and infamous sayings by Julius Malema, leader of the ANC Youth League for the past two years. What does he say about Zille, Zuma, women and Nando’s? And what do his words reveal about the new generation of the ANC and where the post-elections government is heading?

Here is an excerpt from the book, published by Kwela Books...

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Malema evokes strong reactions from those outside the ANC and his youthful fan base.

Former ANC MP and parliamentary whip David Dalling voiced the opinion of many when he said, “Malema is an uneducated, loud-mouthed, ignorant and arrogant lout, and an embarrassment to both the ANC and all of South Africa. As Anne Robinson would say, ‘You are the weakest link. Goodbye.’ President Zuma should tell him to go.”

A senior former cabinet minister says with considerable venom in his voice: “Malema is nothing but a running dog. It is scandalous that Zuma and Mantashe are tolerating his despicable behaviour – or shall I say encouraging it.”

A former youth activist, Siyanda Mhlongo, wrote in the Sowetan that Malema’s utterances were “primitive, barbaric, backward”. Cope leader Terror Lekota called Malema a “child soldier”, typical of those who have caused so much destruction in Africa. He said Malema’s political intolerance and threats of violence showed the ANC’s descent into ironfisted authoritarianism. “Malema says, ‘If you do not do what we say, then we will take up arms and kill you.’ And you still want us to think of Malema as a joke?”

But a University of Cape Town student, Motheo Moleko, gave a different, fascinating insight in a piece he wrote for after Malema had addressed a meeting on the campus just before the April elections. Malema “cemented his position as the politician least afraid to provoke and most likely to grossly polarise his detractors from his supporters,”

Moleko wrote. “Yet, amidst the cheers, boos and theatrics, I believe I witnessed something far more interesting – the imminence of a new political celebrity. On his rare visit to UCT, I was less surprised with what he had to say than I was surprised at the effect he had on people.” Moleko wrote that Malema drew about 700 students without much pre-publicity.

Apart from a few DA hecklers, the crowd mostly loved him. Malema inspired them, he wrote; “I witnessed many of those sitting on the fence becoming believers of the ‘glorious revolution’ Julius spoke of.” Malema was “not everybody’s cup of tea”, Moleko continued, “but there is a lot more going on under the hood than some have been led to believe.

Furthermore, whether those who witnessed him liked what they saw or found it intolerable, every person who walked out of the Beattie Lecture Theatre onto University Avenue was emotionally charged and was wanting more.”

In Luthuli House itself, those who do not love or heroworship Malema fear him – or tolerate him because he serves their purposes. Most make sure that they stay on his right side.

About three million new voters registered for the April 2009 elections. Most of those must have been young and black. Malema and his lieutenants like to remind the ANC leadership that the Youth League delivered most of these votes to the ANC. That made sure that the ANC ended up with 65,9% of the total vote, despite the breakaway by Cope and the growth of the DA.

It seems fairly safe to assume that Malema’s value to the mainstream ANC is the fact that the disaffected black youth, angry and resentful that their prospects have not dramatically improved in recent years, are attracted by Malema’s rudeness, militancy and blanket defiance. His power gives them a little, by proxy.

Opposition parties claim Malema is being shamelessly used as a tool by the senior leadership of the ANC to “do their dirty work for them”. The ANC denies this, naturally, and reminds people that the ANC Youth League can legitimately claim some autonomy.

Some leaders privately tell reporters that they don’t take Malema seriously and that’s why they find it unnecessary to constantly repudiate and discipline him. But there is sufficient reason to believe that Zuma himself and several of his senior comrades in the ANC’s national executive have consciously exploited Malema’s blustering style and scare tactics to their own advantage.

One of those leaders reluctantly conceded as much: “All those who claimed to have left the ANC because of Julius’s antics would have left the ANC anyway. When the IFP’s Koos van der Merwe said before the elections that Malema was the opposition parties’ best weapon, he didn’t know what he was talking about. Sure, he embarrasses us occasionally, but it does no lasting damage; we simply say he’s young and still has to learn. On the other hand, he’s brought real value to the party at election time and his role in getting Zuma where he is now, instead of in jail, should not be underestimated.”

Whatever his political future, Julius Malema has made sure of his place in the history books in the important new era in South African politics after the Polokwane revolution of December 2007.

More quotes from The World According to Malema:

On Julius Malema: “I’m an ordinary young person who’s grown up here in South Africa, from a township, who has no intention – none whatsoever – to scare people.”

On Zuma's education: “Zuma was taught by people on the ground. He is the most educated president. Economics is simple – put bread on the table.”

On politicians who can be replaced: “Politicians are the easiest to replace . . . we will move forward and they will carry on with the programmes which are there.”

On a two-thirds majority: “We are tired of a two-thirds majority. Our aim is a ‘three-thirds’ majority.”

On being a decoy: “I was the decoy. While Helen Zille was calling me names, Jacob Zuma was sprinting to the Union Buildings.”

On Nando’s: “I don’t know what’s happening with Nando’s. We are running this country and we cannot be concerned about chickens.”

On the ANCYL: “We are in a political laboratory; never blame us if we make mistakes, we are [just] learning.”

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Read more on:    julius malema  |  mandy rossouw  |  max du preez

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