Julius, the easier you rise, the harder you fall!!

2013-02-27 14:46

In the debut season of medieval fantasy drama Game of Thrones then naïve but loyal ‘hand of the king’ Eddard Stark in one scene confronts deceptively ambitions Queen Cersei about her incestuous affair with her brother Jaime (he fathered all her kids as well) whom she’s having with behind always inebriated King Robert’s back. Advising her to flee in order to escape his wrath when he spills the beans on her the queen confidently delivers a killer response when she says, “When you play the game of thrones Lord Stark, you win or you die. There is no place for middle ground.”

These words rang true when I heard about expelled African National Congress Youth League president Julius Malema’s financial troubles and the auctioning of his belongings since his fall from political greatness and run in with the taxman. He played the political game so crafty that he could only get further ahead or fall felt on his on his face. The lattter turned out to be true for ambitious and ferocious Malema.

The rise and rise of the kingmaker…

Julius Malema was elected president of the ANCYL in April 2008 beating his rival Saki Mofokeng for the league’s top spot. Out going president Fikile Mbalula reportedly favoured the  militant Malema and believed he was the right person to take up the post and mobilize support for ANC president Jacob Zuma who was facing corruption charges at the time.

Malema wasted no time after his appointment he stated that under his leadership the ANCYL was "100% Zuma" and advocated for the dropping of corruption charges against Jacob Zuma by the NPA as he was their preferred candidate to take over as South Africa’s head of state. Malema with his sharp tongue soon established himself as a powerful but radical orator and the voice of the poor determined to fight for economic equality and job creation for the poor and unemployed.

After publicly lambasting then president Thabo Mbeki for what he perceived as a conspiracy against beleaguered Jacob Zuma to keep him out of the presidency, Malema proved to be a media hound as he was constantly in the headlines in local and international media. As his influence within and outside the youth wing of the ruling party gained momentum, so did his connections with businessmen and so- called ‘tenderprenuers’ countrywide.

For his radical and often controversial statements Malema together with fearless public protector Thuli Madonsela (ironically it’s her On Point report that nailed him) jointly won  the National Press Club’s newsmaker of the year award in 2011 as a this carved his place as a kingmaker in SA politics.

He also garnered support by calling for the nationalisation of the country’s mines and banks as a way to ensure the redistribution of  SA resources to the poor and unemployed and quote “not only to an elite few.” Malema soon amassed a huge following and support for his views as many started seeing him as the voice of the marginalized black youth.

Julius own worst enemy?

Things were going well for Malema being the head of a powerful youth movement, living an affluent life with connections ranging from politicians to budding millionaires. But things took a turn for the worst when he as the cliché goes ‘started biting the same hand that fed him.’ After falling out of favour with President Jacob Zuma he was suspended and later expelled by the ANC for sowing divisions in the party for calling for regime change inBotswana and Zuma president a dictator.

In November 2011 the ANC disciplinary committee expelled Malema alongside the league’s spokesperson Floyd Shivambu from the organisation that played a role in securing Zuma the presidency. What followed for Malema was the public protector’s investigation into his dealings after a Sunday paper’s allegations that he receiving kick backs from a tendering company through his family trust which had received tenders from theLimpopoprovincial government. Facing money laundering charges and R16 million rand tax evasion bill from SARS problems for Malema mounted faster than his rise to political dominance had.

In a space of five years Malema has achieved a fate many politicians and business executives would have not thought possible. But his penchant for straight talking and oblivion for consequences proved to be a proclivity that saw the fast pace crumbling of his empire in a space of under two years.

After his expulsion from the party of whom its president he had valiantly fought for to be the country’s head of state, it seemed that all Malema had to look forward to were problems he had acquired during his rapid rise to power.

Now left with nothing except money laundering charges hanging over his head like an albatross, the final nail to his coffin came when most of his belongings were recently auctioned off to settle his six figure tax bill. Appearing on the frontpage of a newspaper with a headline that read “My friends are not taking my calls” one couldn’t help feel sorry for him as his supposed friends suddenly disappeared following his political and media irrelevance. The sheriff attached most of his valuables including his home, cars, farms and suits (I wanted to bid on the purple on) leaving Malema broke and alone.

Julius Malema must serve as an example that there are no shortcuts to success and if you do it doesn’t guarantee financial or professional stability in any way. Rather when you take uncalculated risks, you don’t conduct due diligence in your dealings and start thinking you untouchable by taking decisions without considering the ramifications to the full extent you run the risk of losing everything because your when the tax man comes knocking on your door.

After Lord Stark attemped to rat out Queen Cersei he paid for it by having his head chopped off. Julius Malema learnt that the hard way that being in politics sometimes means abiding by the rules and policies of the organisation you affiliated with to get ahead or you run the risk of crashing and burning into political obscurity and be less relevant than COPE. So before you think of taking shortcuts remember when 'kingmakers' fall their landing makes such a raucous its impossible to ignore.

You can catch me on twitter @BongaDlulane

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