By Yonela Diko
Black Opinion is republishing the following article by Yonela Diko that was previously published on the Independent Online (IOL) website on 28 July 2017
Cape Town – On June 16, 2008 Julius Malema political career was officially launched on the public stage when he told the country the ANC Youth league would take up arms and “kill” for African National Congress president Jacob Zuma at a youth day rally at Thaba ‘Nchu in the Free State. That day, a would be black – leader, the country had never seen, was born.
Three months later, on September 10, 2008, Malema went further and vowed to “eliminate any force” blocking Zuma’s path to the presidency. He said the “Malema generation” would be responsible for making Zuma president of the country, regardless of charges levelled at him.
“Any force in our way we will eliminate. We are on a mission here. We will crush you. It doesn’t matter who you are, even if you are in the ANC,” he was quoted as saying.
The opposition parties, still classifying him as a clown at that stage moved a little to slam his comments—labelling them as hate speech—media also picked up pace and covered all manner of voices of condemnation. But Malema was just getting started.
On July 2, 2009 he issued his first call for South Africa’s mines to be nationalised, saying imperialist forces needed to accept “the failures of capitalism” and prepare for “the state to own the mines and other means of production as called for in the Freedom Charter”.
It is at this time, having witnessed Malema delivering on his every promise – with President Zuma elected president two months before on 22 April, 2009 – that some business leaders, elements of civil society, leaders of the union movement and opposition political parties who had struggled to free themselves from the settler consciousness in post-1994 South Africa decided to take this new voice seriously and fight back.
On March 10, 2010 Malema, singing Dubul’ iBhunu (“Shoot the Boer”) at University of Johannesburg’s Doornfontein campus, finally gave this coalition of the wounded a reason to fire their first salvo. Sixteen days later, on March 26, 2010, the Johannesburg High Court ruled that the song is unconstitutional and unlawful. A month later, on April 1, 2010, the Pretoria High Court granted an interdict preventing Malema from uttering the words “Shoot the Boer”, or any other song that incites violence.
This coalition of the wounded took it even a step further, now Malema was to face charges of genocide. On June 12, 2010, documents were filed at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague in Netherlands charging Malema with mass incitement of violence towards white Afrikaans farmers. The specific murder rate of white Afrikaans farmers was cited as the highest in the world and Malema’s calls for the expropriation of private farms through nationalisation forebodes a Zimbabwe-style scenario.
Then it got personal. A little while later City Press revealed that in 2010 alone, different donors had deposited more than R3 million into Malema’s Ratanang Family Trust, becoming the subject of a criminal investigation by the Hawks.
Then all the dogs were unleashed on him – the Hawks, public protector, South African Revenue Service (Sars) and the Master of the High Court – all finalising forensic investigations into the extent of Malema’s wealth and the role of his family trust in benefiting from Limpopo government tenders.
Then one newspaper reported that the Malema had bought a three-bedroom home in Sandton for R3.6-million and a R1-million mansion in Polokwane – both allegedly paid for in cash. This was on a salary of just R20 000, warranting all legal institutions to be unleashed on this young leader.
It was revealed that he also owns a black Mercedes-Benz AMG, which retails for about R734 000, and reportedly drives an Aston Martin and a red Range Rover Sport. They also accused him of attending a Wits University lecture in a brand-new white Range Rover with no number plates, which costs in the region of R1.2-million. At this stage he was now referred to as “the controversial and corrupt multi-millionaire leader of South Africa’s ruling party”.
His politics were next to be discredited. Pundits said Malema’s posturing as radical champion of the black poor was simply a means to an end: rising higher in the ranks of the ANC, in order to access bigger state tenders and higher paying political office.
Then on February 23, 2010, they finally came out, calling him a controversial youth league president, who is currently campaigning for the nationalisation of South African mines, who was at the same time a director of four companies: 101 Junjus Trading CC, Blue Nightingale Trading 61, Ever Roaring Investment and SGL Engineering Projects.
Like, Nkosazana today, it was also revealed that Malema was granted around-the-clock VIP protection by the ministry of police after they conducted a report revealing that his life could be in danger. Opposition parties and civil rights groups slammed the move as an abuse of state resources.
The scandals just kept coming, with allegations arising that Malema may have benefited from tenders in his home province of Limpopo. He was proved to be a director at SGL Engineering Projects, which secured government contracts worth R140-million between 2007 and 2009. It was also alleged Malema may not be up-to-date with his taxes, with opposition parties calling on Sars to investigate him.
Then whilst at the zenith of his political princedom, February 2012, Malema’s world exploded. NDC chairperson Derek Hanekom announced that Malema had been expelled from the ANC. As they say, the rest is history.
But was it?
It’s March 2016, Malema has a hundred cameras to his face and he is telling the world that “in between now and the impeachment, President Zuma will not speak in Parliament and we will stop him physically. We will push him because President Zuma is no longer the president of the Republic of South Africa”.
Malema had formed a new organisation, Economic Freedom Fighters, won handsomely at the polls and now had taken it as his personal project to humiliate and embarrass the very person he was willing to die for in order to make president.
As for his problems, what became of them? Well, the privileged, predominantly white, who had done everything to create a monster out of Malema, were now going out of their way to use the dominant instruments of propaganda, which, by definition, is at the disposal of the privileged, to sow a pretty picture of Malema and an ugly picture of an ANC because Malema had finally become their useful idiot whom they can use to deal with their everlasting black majority fears. Dividing black vote so that whites can stop feeling like a minority was the ultimate target and Malema was proving useful.
After the 2016 elections, the once scaremongering Malema was heaped lavish praise by the media for his political brilliance after the elections. One analyst even pointed out that being the darling of the media, and wielding actual power are two separate matters entirely. Julius commands media attention akin to President Zuma but he only had 6% of the national vote and Zuma commands a 62%. What was the purpose of overselling Malema in this manner by the media.
Today, the attacks on his private life have turned to excessive compliments. In April 2016, East Coast Radio called him Mr Romantic. Mr Romantic? That is what the media is calling Malema these days, showing his life with his beautiful wife, no more searching for his wealth and his investments to expose him. Huffington Post posted what they called adorable pics showing Malema celebrating his second wedding anniversary in December 2016. In 2016, Malema was called adorable. He was no more a controversial youth league president, campaigning for the nationalization of South African mines and scaring everyone with governing power.
Rod MacKenzie, writing for Mail & Guardian on February 20, 2015, said, “I have developed respect for Malema and his party that I never thought I would ever have. They had sheer guts to stand up in Parliament, call Zuma a thief, even a ‘great thief’, ‘the greatest in the world’. They refused to sit down even when ordered to, or face being removed.”
Then Mackenzie did what all media does these days, turned Malema and his hooligans into victims and freedom fighters. “They were even physically threatened. Nevertheless, heroic fists banging against heroic chests, they continued to demand that Jacob Zuma, return the Nkandla money. They were brutally manhandled into leaving (Mashabela screaming ‘don’t touch me’) and this was done risking injury to themselves” (‘they even pulled on our private parts’ as Malema was to later on say with boyish, insouciant relish).
The Malema who was once reported to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity is no more. His fight against the ANC president has turned him into a hero of the white world. Today, he is even invited into white parties to come and make his idiotic noise – everyone knows he has no power, he is just a media creature that serves its purpose.
As he was then, Malema is still a useful idiot propagating the line of others.
Yonela Diko is a media strategist and consultant working for the ANC.