AFRICANGLOBE – Julius Malema is free to contest the 2014 elections. Monday’s postponement of the corruption case against the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader was the best possible outcome he could have hoped for.
Next week he will be back in court to argue for the case against him to be dropped. If the charges stand, he won’t be prosecuted until September 2014, after the elections, and after another year of building support.
Speaking outside the court to well over 1,000 supporters, Malema was wearing a black suit, white shirt and red tie. “We are not going to prison, we are going to Parliament! You cannot run government from prison because there are no computers,” he said, flanked by fellow Fighters in red. Malema’s minders held umbrellas aloft to protect him from the sun.
“I have never stolen from you and I would never steal from you because that would be like stealing from my grandmother’s pension,” said Malema. The court case against Malema and his associates Kagisho Dichabe, Lesiba Gwangwa, Helen Moreroa and Makgetsi Manthata was postponed until September and October 2014 after an agreement between the legal parties. Yet another delay supports Malema’s argument that the state has no evidence to prosecute him. He will be back in court next week to argue that charges against him should be dropped.
Malema mentioned how his family is grateful for the support from EFF members and said they are inspiring communities. The party will have another rally in Polokwane next week and Malema told each member of the audience to sign up 10 others to EFF.
Malema said Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has done good work investigating the security upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home and the information must be made public. He doesn’t need a report, however, to know that Zuma is corrupt, he said, claiming the president has stolen from the poor.
On Madonsela’s investigation into On-Point Engineering, however, he was less supportive. He said the country must be wary of supporting overnight heroes.
Malema continued to claim that his arrest was part of a conspiracy from the ANC to silence him. “They are arresting me with the hope that nationalisation would die,” he told the crowd, who came from Limpopo and other provinces. The state, and by connection the ANC under Zuma, is intellectually below him, which is why they resorted to laying criminal charges, he said. “They are accusing me from stealing from the poor because they fail to match my thinking capacity.”
Zuma wasn’t the only target in the speech. Malema called ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa a “black Boer” after the Ramaphosa warned a resident in Seshego that the Boers would return if voters weren’t careful. Zuma’s youngest child is the richest young person ever, but is not a member of the Youth League, so how did he get rich? said Malema. He must be name-dropping, he suggested. Malema urged supporters not to vote for the ANC. “You must never vote for them,” he said bluntly.
The EFF leader spoke at length and gave some advise to EFF members. They should keep their zips closed so that party is not dragged into a rape case, he told the crowd.
Malema was preaching to the converted and the audience appeared satisfied with the idea that there is a conspiracy against him. He is out on bail for R10,000, having been charged with fraud, corruption, money-laundering, and racketeering. The charges relate to a R52-million contract awarded by the Limpopo Department of Roads and Transport to On-Point Engineering, part-owned by Malema. When the Public Protector investigated the case she found that regarding On-Point’s actions “a crime has been committed”. Madonsela said Malema and his business partner Lesiba Gwangwa had “benefited improperly from the unlawful, fraudulent and corrupt conduct of On-Point and maladministration of the department.”
Malema has always maintained that the charges were politically motivated and meant to silence his criticism of President Zuma. He is using the case to rally supporters and will benefit from the postponement. Following Zuma’s own example, Malema is painting himself as a victim of a heartless enemy. He is ready to die for the benefit of the people, he said, and will never betray them.
With the court’s postponement, Malema will be able to play this card all the way to the 2014 elections, where EFF hopes it can win young voters and eat into the ANC’s supporter base. Malema will have enjoyed Monday. Like his former political boss, Zuma, he is showing a remarkable resilience to the challenges on the road to economic freedom and in his efforts to stay out of jail.
By: Greg Nicholson and T Lekgowa