Julius Malema believes he has just one job: to show the ANC it needs him more than it needs any of its living leaders, especially all those who participated in his ANC rise and fall. He has argued that this description of his mission is noble. He describes his targets as stupid, uneducated, corrupt neo-colonial stooges who sold out the 1955 ANC-led Freedom Charter.
Malema’s actions are not about “paying back the money” or “protection of the Office of the Public Protector”. He has a vendetta; its personal issues about his very existence as a man. After-all, his nemesis did not just rob him of his ANC stardom but ‘enabled’ criminal charges against him. His nemesis ‘dug’ up the humiliating tax bill that saw his bankruptcy and near-sequestration. Things are gravely personal.
Malema’s talk of poverty is personal. He talks of a threat that he personally felt last year when his cabbage farm and mansion were auctioned off and his personal banking accounts frozen. This happened just after other income streams were stopped by NPA investigations into the link between On-Point tenders and the R2.7 billion hole that caused the collapse of the Limpopo Government.
In his statement on the passing of Mr Selebi, Malema saw it fit to remind his followers that “the ANC sold Selebi out,” and “didn’t protect him from prosecution”. These utterances are driven by his views about his own circumstances.
Malema argues consistently, clearly and very convincingly to at least 1.4m South Africans who turned out to vote for him in 2014 general elections. He says he knows their pain and experiences, so they elected him as a Member of Parliament.
Malema truly believed that he was going totally thump the ANC at the polls or, at the very least, become the official opposition leader. Although he got wounded by the election outcome, his intention is to annihilate the ANC by all means necessary, including by occupying land in order to destabilize communities.
Malema is desperate. He is a mess and he is dangerous. As his criminal trial date nears, his desperation will worsen if charges are not dropped. He will not threaten to disrupt just the symbolisms of democracy like the State of the Nation Address by President, no! Instead, he will come up with even worse tactics to weaken the State and to restore the stardom “denied” to him by attacking the president’s dignity.
The Malema mess is ludicrous. The criminal charges against him emanate from findings and recommendations of the Public Protector. The findings are contained in a report about dealings between the (then) Provincial Government of Limpopo, his business partners and a family investment trust. He now charges that the Public Protector’s reports are final, which will come back to haunt him as state lays it’s case.
Malema’s mess is about the politics of sloganeering. We have seen some chanting for him to “pay back the money”. Those voices will become even louder during corruption trial later this year.
Malema is neither known for cautiousness nor calm demeanor. His showdown with some members of his party led to summary suspensions. A court granted an interim relief, setting the the suspensions aside. More drama is yet to come.
Malema’s EFF and President Zuma’s ANC, despite their similar constituencies, have not worked in tandem on issues of serious lawmaking. The public rhetoric is EFF-led, whilst the ANC is quietly making and passing laws, budgets and policy.
There has been no gallant EFF public stance on legislation before parliament other than sideshows items like Nkandla, their dress code or chants in the House. In memory, an ordinary voter will recall EFF’s walkouts from the chamber but will not recall the substantive issues that motivated these actions.
Malema believes he is showing a tough posture to the poor’s advantage. There is a difference between tough posture and plain rudeness.
The fatal shooting of the 14 year old Siphiwe Mahori by a Somali national ignited a contagion of theft and criminal looting across Gauteng Province. Four more people were killed.
How much more devastation would a call to violence by Malema cause? As is, there are no cool heads around Malema’s inner circles. Malema, if not spoken to, will pose a “profound” national-security threat to South Africa in short term.
It is immaterial whether Malema finds president Zuma intelligent, or agreeable. A president (especially one with a popular vote) cannot be written off by a small political party. There are consequences for losing an election in a participatory democracy. The losers lose the leverage to privately negotiate certain political deals for its constituencies.
Malema’s mess is about the politics of demands and noise, not deal-making and negotiation.
Unfortunately, Malema’s mess is turning into a Maimane mess too. The leader of the opposition in Parliament should create such cordialities with the State President so that she may have occasional tea to discuss matters of State, be it troop deployment, strategic foreign policy positions, invitations to meet foreign dignitaries or to share the stage in combined efforts to market the country in global forums.
At some point, the electioneering mess must end and cooperative governance begin. At the very least, until the next round of elections. For people’s sake.