Why Malema is not the answer

2014-01-22 11:39

Julius Malema. Pic: SAPA

With all the hype surrounding the EFF and more and more voters pledging to support the party, I too started wondering if I should consider the party. But then I have flashbacks to another leader who too faced corruption charges and who resulted in a split in the ruling party as a result of his own support base – that leader was Jacob Zuma – and look how well that turned out for us.

A chip off the old block

To me, Malema is just another Zuma in the making. Plagued with corruption charges, Malema, like Zuma did in the last elections, appeals to the poor – promising jobs and housing and true economic empowerment. But Malema hardly walks the walk. His house in Sandton, his R16 million debt to SARS, his ability to pay R78 000 in cash at a luxury game lodge hardly seems to support the image of a man for the people. It’s the type of frivolous expenditure which does not represent someone with the poor’s cause at heart. Rather it reeks of self-enrichment.

And while some say that voters aren’t nitwits who have simply forgotten about the allegations facing Malema, but the truth is many rural and poor voters don’t have access to media stories which inform them of this. Studying in Grahamstown, we found that even R5 for the local newspaper was too high a price for township residents. Rather they rely on the speeches given by leaders and advocates of a party in the area which focus on the positives of a party rather than its shortcomings.

Public controversy and racial rhetoric

Another trait that Zuma and Malema share is the ability to make a fool of themselves and to turn our country into a joke through their public comments. We need a leader that takes into account what they’re saying rather than simply blurting out statements. The behavior of Malema sometimes shows no thought before making a statement. Rather he will 180 on his stance or try to accuse the media of misquoting/targeting him. Making only statements one is willing to stick by seems a more responsible solution.

Furthermore, the focus on racial rhetoric rather than real debate shows a lack of true conviction in their decisions – rather every doubt in their decisions is remarked on as a result of racism. It is a base and negative way to deal with criticism which further sows division in our already divided country. I would much prefer a leader who can address the country’s issues, without resorting to demagogue tactics by appealing to the fears and prejudices of the voters.

Lack of consistency

Malema also has a way of switching causes rapidly, showing no true loyalty to particular ideals. First Zuma is a hero, but when Zuma stops supporting Malema, Zuma is suddenly a corrupt fraud and rapist.

This lack of consistency is also seen in the ‘policies’ of the EFF and Malema, who have been accused of changing their position based on the demographic they’re speaking to.

Furthermore, as Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim pointed out, the EFF is marketed as a "working-class organisation", but had a leader who had been a "director of companies which do work for government on the basis of tenders". Until the formation of the EFF, Malema was a known tenderpreneur.

While our country does need new and refreshing ideas in our political landscape and political debate which will help create progess, Malema will not be the source of this. With his changing loyalties and ideas and the credibility of his word in question, Malema will not be the answer to the poor’s struggle in South Africa.

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