AFRICANGLOBE – Just when everybody thought he was done and dusted, the irrepressible commander-in-Chief of the new Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party is no doubt set to cause consternation in South African political circles. His party name choice alone speaks deeply about what is outstanding in the country after Nelson Mandela’s political freedom. It is economic freedom.
Perhaps none in the Republic of South Africa has his political instincts.
And perhaps irrespective of his missteps none has his energy and commitment to a political cause.
Julius Malema’s venue choice for his Economic Freedom fighters (EFF) launch on October 13, at Marikana, where on August 16, 2012, thirty-four miners striking for higher wages were gunned down by police, was extremely telling.
The backbone of Malema’s EFF are relatively young people in their 30s.
Their trademark is a red beret, revolutionaries.
Julius Malema, the former president of the African National Congress Youth League, was expelled from the ruling ANC this year after months of contestation with the senior members of the ANC, including the President, Jacob Zuma.
He was openly defiant at a disciplinary hearing instituted against him.
The big boys got fed up with him and gave him the boot. Then followed criminal charges of fraud and money laundering, with the police poring through his affairs.
Soon the tax authorities were gunning for him in unpaid taxes dating many years back, when he was the darling of the ANC and presumed untouchable.
His case comes up in the high court this month.
With no ANC platform, the political pundits opined that he would wither on the vine. But as the saying goes; “you must beware of the man with nothing to lose.”
He has created his own platform. And he is busy pissing copiously into the ANC tent, like no one has ever done.
On October 8, his party received its registration certificate to contest the April 2014 general elections.
The party launch at Marikana went off with fanfare and was attended by thousands of supporters.
Also at Marikana, the ANC- aligned National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has been jettisoned by the workers in favour of a new kid on the blocks, AMCU (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union), whose members attended Malema’s launch in droves. And as they say in America; “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Now Malema is hitting hard at economic issues.
Not only that, he tapped into African cultural capital by slaughtering 12 bulls to cleanse the spirits of the dead at Marikana, before the launch, recalling that on August 16, 2013 the ANC boycotted the first anniversary of the Marikana incident.
Malema has also confronted without fear long standing racial issues that play well into the Black electoral base; the land, inequalities, Black poverty, poor education, economic oppression, and ownership structures drawn along racial lines, all of which are White apartheid legacies.
He has appealed to the unemployed and low wage earners, articulating their struggles in plain language. And he has been saying things nobody else dare say.
“Vote for a real president, not a singer and dancer” – a broadside at President Jacob Zuma, who sings and dances in public – Malema declared at the rally in Marikana.
He had some choice words about the 10 percent White population; “when you took the land from Blacks you committed Black genocide.
“You are not ashamed of taking our land. And we are not going to beg for our land. Till today you are not ashamed of the killing of our people . . . They want us to kneel before them. We are not going to do that.” He went on to call Whites thieves and said a failure to return the land would result in a generational curse.
On the concept of a rainbow nation, he poured deep scorn. “It can’t be reconciliation during rugby matches only, after the rugby match, back to reality. It can’t be the rainbow nation during the performance of (US singer) Rihanna; after the performance of Rihanna, back to reality.” Rihanna was performing that same day in Johannesburg.
Malema went on to call for name changes to cities, towns’ monuments and roads that bear the names of White heroes.
He then touched on popular socialist sentiments:
“When the rich share with the poor there would be no crime. If you share with the poor there will be no need to build high walls at your home.
“Those who are not prepared to share, worry about yourselves. Those who are prepared to share, we will kiss each other.”
As usual he was not without humour. He declared that his party was for all those who did not fear the White man. What should be feared is a new baby that when born, stands up immediately to shake your hands. In effect, the EFF is fired up and ready to go. Trust Malema to show up at every government protest in the country. If there is a quality of his that can become a game-changer, it is courage.