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Archive for the tag “Julius Malema”

Malema has matured

Please forgive me if the title of this post sounds like the condescending musings of an old fart grumbling about “the youth of today”. I suppose that’s what I am, even if I don’t want it to sound that way. And perhaps I’m writing for other old farts who think that Julius Malema is a bumptious young whippersnapper who still has a lot to learn. But I’m not as old as Robert Mugabe, and Julius Malema has rumbled him. And he’s seen through Jake the Fake. Julius Malema has shown that he can, and does, learn from experience, which crusty old farts like Jake the Fake and Mad Bob Mugabe evidently don’t.

Compare, for example, these two articles — Zimbabwe Government Mocks ‘Falsely Radical’ Malema Over Talks:

The Zimbabwe government has lambasted EFF leader, Julius Malema for being a coward.

The Mugabe led-government simply described Malema as a “young and impressionable” leader; who has turned himself into a weapon that fights against liberation movements “on behalf of imperialism”.

How’s that for a bunch of old farts telling a young whippersnapper to grow up?

But compare and contrast that with what happened when Julius Malema visited Zimbabwe only six years ago. There’s a big difference.

And when you’ve read those two, try this — Zimbabwe, Malema & the Court Jesters | The Con:

Former ANC Youth League president and current Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Juluis Malema who is often problematised and perhaps even celebrated by the mainstream media as a South African court jester is perhaps one of the most volatile voices in the public sphere.

Politicians have always employed performative techniques, to rally and garner support from their constituencies. Clive Gaser suggests that there has always been a sense of militancy in the conduct of leaders of the Youth League — performativity is not only specific to Malema. It was apparent in Malema’s predecessors.

I still think that the EFF is better at identifying problems than coming up with solutions but give it time. At least the EFF is identifying bogus causes for problems. The ANC has been blaming apartheid for poor service delivery, but Malema: ANC should stop blaming apartheid for not delivering | IOL:

The African National Congress should stop using the apartheid legacy for not delivering services to the people, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema said on Sunday.

Speaking at an EFF August 3 municipal elections rally at the Zamdela Stadium in Sasolburg in the Free State, Malema lambasted the ANC leadership, saying the party was still using the apartheid legacy to cover incompetency and did not “care about black people”.

Apartheid is to blame for many things, but poor service delivery in municipalities that the ANC has controlled for the last 15 years is not one of them.

Mugabe, Malema and the future of South AfricaFor example, in the City of Tshwane, where I live, rubbish collection has been outsourced and privatised in the approved Thatcherist fashion. That was done by the ANC.

Why is this a bad idea?

Some time ago the municipality introduced wheelie bins and specialised rubbish collection lorries to pick them up in an automated process. The lorries were designed to compact the rubbish so that they would have to make fewer wasteful trips to the dump.

Since the rubbish collection was privatised, it has gradually reverted to a much more primitive process. Some rubbish lorries are simply a cage made of diamond-mesh fencing, into which the bins are manually emptied. Even some of the purpose-built ones look old and badly maintained.

The reason is not far to seek. If you tender for a rubbish-collection contract for three years, and it is uncertain whether it will be renewed after that period, but it might be given to someone else, there is little point in investing in specialised equipment. If you don’t get the contract, who will you sell it to? If the contract isn’t renewed, that cuts your losses.

Julius Malema Launches EFFOf course if the contract isn’t renewed, the workers might also lose their jobs. By their very nature, contractors for such services are inclined to employ casual labour, so the workers are unlikely to have such benefits as pensions or medical aid or job security. This was done by the ANC; it was not done in the apartheid period. The Tshwane Municipality has done some good things too, and I think it is one of the better-run municipalities in the country, but failures in service delivery in 2016 are not the fault of apartheid.

So it seems to me that though in the past Julius Malema took a shotgun approach to identifying problems, just blasting away in the hope that something would hit the target, he is now adopting a more pinpoint approach, trying to identify the real cause. I don’t know if the EFF will control any municipalities after the local government elections on 3 August, but even if they don’t control any, they could be useful watchdogs, keeping the other councillors on their toes.

 

 

Making political capital out of the miners’ strike

Violent clashes between police and striking miners at the Lonmin mine at Marikana in North-West Province, and between members of rival unions, have left 34 dead (at the last count) and many more injured. This has shocked most people in South Africa. After 18 years of talk of transformation, can we say that anything as been transformed from the old South Africa? Are the police that shot striking miners at Marikana in 2012 any better than those who shot protesters against the pass laws at Sharpeville in 1960? What has been transformed?

In such circumstances it’s all to easy to join the blame game.

Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys in all this?

But the more you learn about what happened and is happening there, the more you realize that it’s not at all simple. There are no good guys and bad guys. There’s good and bad in all. So before pronouncing judgement, it is wise to learn a bit more about the issues and what is at stake, and what led to the strike. One fairly good article on this topic is here: Daily Maverick – Beyond the chaos at Marikana: The search for the real issues.

I’m sure that it doesn’t tell the full story, and things have moved on since then, and much of it has been overtaken by subsequent events, but it is worth reading anyway.

Can this be compared with Sharpeville?

Yes and no. The Sharpeville protesters were unarmed, and most were shot in the back; the Marikana strikers were armed, though most with “traditional weapons”. One can hope that there will be a Commission of Inquiry, and that it will not suffer the same constraints as the Sharpeville one.

The miners, we are told, are striking because they want an increase from R4000 a month to R12500 a month. How does R4000 a month compare with 1960?

Back then, when we decimalised our currency, and exchanged pounds shillings and pence for Rands and cents, underground miners used to earn between 15c and 35c a shift. That was roughly about R4.00 a month. If they are earning R4000 a month, that is 1000 times more.

Of course back then the Rand was worth a lot more than it is now. Again, at a rough guiess, I’d say it was worth 100 times more. A Rand today is worth what a cent was worth back then.

How do I measure?

In 1961 an omelet and chips in a downtown Joburg restaurasnt cost 35c, as did a plate of mince and rice. You’d be lucky to get the equivalent for R35.00 today. A bottle of Coke or Fanta or Sparletta cost 5c, as did a cup of coffee or a daily newspaper. You’d be lucky to get any of those for R5.00 today. A hamburger cost 15c — equivalent to the daily pay of the lowest paid miners at the time (the miners did get food in the hostels).

So if you multiplied the pay by 100 it would be R400 a month today, not R4000. But I don’t know if the miners of today who are earning R4000 a month are still getting free board and lodging. And even those who got free board and lodging on the job back then often had families at home elsewhere. So if they had a wife and three children, they could feed themselves on a quarter of a hamburger each per day.

So are the miners justified in striking? Are they justified in aerming themselves? Are they justified in killing those they regard as scabs? Are the police justified in shooting them?

I don’t know. If such questions are to be answered, let a judicial Commission of Inquiry look into it.

But there are some things about this that do seem more unequivocally bad — people who are not directly involved trying to cash in and make political capital out of it.

For example, there’s one of those photos doing the rounds on Facebook, which is both disingenuous and malicious.

Why is it bad?

  • The farmers were killed by criminals; the miners were killed by the police who are supposed to be catching the criminals.
  • The miners were killed on one day; the farmers were killed over a long period.
  • If one is going to make a thing about occupational groups, then one might as well acknowledge that the criminals picked on the farmers because the thought they were rich; the miners killed by the police were striking because they were poor.

So that picture is intended to spread disinformation, and to encourage the uninformed to spread disinformation. It’s not that murdering farmers is not a bad thing, but rather that those who are ostensibly campaigning against it are trying to promote their cause by using thoroughly dishonest pictures like the one above.

Another example of someone trying to cash in on the situation to make political capital is here: Malema at Marikana: ‘Many will die’ – Mail & Guardian Online:

Julius Malema wasn’t pulling punches, when he spoke to several thousand Marikana mineworkers on Saturday. President Jacob Zuma should step down, he said, as should Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

ANC National Executive Committee member Cyril Ramaphosa came in for a drubbing as well – with the implication that he was partially responsible for the deaths of the strikers killed this week.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) were sellouts, he said, and police had no excuse for using live ammunition.

Julius Malema seems to see this as his ticket out of the political wilderness.

I lose my zest to look my best when I read the daily news

The heading is a line from Jeremy Taylor’s song Confession

Well one fine day I’ll make my way
to 10 Downing Street
Good day, I’ll say, I’ve come a long way
excuse my naked feet
But I lack, you see, the energy
to buy a pair of shoes
I lose my zest to look my best
when I read the daily news
’cause it appears you’ve got an atom bomb
that’ll blow us all to hell and gone
If I’ve gotta die then why should I
give a damn if my boots aren’t on?

If the daily news was depressing fifty years ago when Taylor composed his song, it’s just as depressing today, though for a somewhat different reason.

Back then it was depressing over things that mattered, like atom bombs.

Now it is depressing over things that don’t matter so much.

Back then there were important issues at stake, life and death issues, one could say.

Now it’s just about the personalities of politicians jockeying for position.

Three years ago Julius Malema was saying he would kill for Jacob Zuma. Now it seems there’s nothing he’d like better than to step over Zuma’s dead body and into his shoes.

The two big stories for the last fortnight have been Julius Malema’s disciplinary hearing for bringing the ANC into disrepute, and Zuma’s appointment of Mogoeng Mogoeng as Chief Justice.

But what are they about really? are there any really important issues at stake?

I don’t think so.

I think that the central issue in both is Jacob Zuma’s attempt to curb ambitious or potential rivals, to surround himself with yes-men and distance himself from potential no-men. Thabo Mbeki was accused of doing the same thing when he tried to slap down and discredit Zuma. Zuma bounced back, and perhaps Malema will too.

About the appointment of Mogoeng Mogoeng as chief justice, I think veteran journalist Allister Sparks put his finger on it when he wrote BusinessDay – ALLISTER SPARKS: At home and abroad:

Zuma has bypassed Judge Dikgang Moseneke, the deputy president of the court, whom the legal profession is almost unanimous in regarding as the obvious choice, and named a highly controversial figure instead.

Why? It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the president has a personal prejudice against Moseneke. This is the second time he has bypassed the most respected legal mind on the court, who also happens to be in pole position for the senior job.

Moreover, it is believed Zuma approached three other judges before turning to Mogoeng, and that all declined the job. Could it be they, too, recognised Moseneke as the obvious candidate and were uncomfortable about accepting it ahead of him? If that is the case, it means Moseneke didn’t even figure among the top four potential candidates in the president’s mind. In fact it means Zuma has blackballed him.

One is left to assume this is probably because Moseneke is not a member of the African National Congress (ANC), but was once a protege of the ANC’s great rival, the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC).

If Moseneke were Chief Justice, there might be the danger that he would exercise an independent judicial mind, and not be swayed too much by the interests of the ruling clique of the ruling party. It wasn’t so much that Zuma was desperate to have Mogoeng, but rather he was desperate not to have Moseneke.

That’s what’s so depressing about the daily news nowadays. It’s not about big issues any more, but only about the ambitions of politicians to retain or grab power, and the shifting alliances as they do so. Oh yes, Julius Malema talks of nationalising the mines and the spirit of the Freedom Charter. But it might be more in the spirit of the Freedom Charter if the RDP were to be revived. Nationalising the mines might have been a viable option in 1955. All it would achieve now would be to saddle the taxpayers with nearly fully amortised assets, and the liabilities of solving the problems of acid water. So I suspect that is just empty rhetoric to try to gain support.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of Steve Biko. Would it have made a difference if he had lived? Or would have have immersed himself in a medical career, as Dikgamg Moseneke has immersed himself in his legal one?

Are todays politicians like children dressing up in their mothers’ clothes, going around saying “I’m the king of the castle, you’re the dirty rascal”? Trying to walk around in shoes several sizes too big for them, shoes once worn by people like Oliver and Adelaide Tambo, Walter and Albertina Sisulu?

When I read the daily news it certainly looks like it, but are the media telling us the truth?

Perhaps we should follow Bishop Nick Baines when he says, “And most of us have a life to live and work to do and will leave this media game (for, entertaining though it obviously is, that is all it is) to the media.”

Is it just a media game, part of the entertainment that the media provide for the masses?

Bishop Nick writes (Game off | Nick Baines’s Blog) about a different setting, a different group of newspapers, and a different group of people, but perhaps what he writes is true of the media here too.

And, as he says, “Despite the accurately vague language that is used in these reports, it is sadly inevitable that many people will think them credible. I don’t blame the writers for amusing themselves in this way, but the readers need to ask themselves a few questions.”

Opinionated Vicar: Boring vs Dangerous

Opinionated Vicar: Boring vs Dangerous:

A person with a sense of history and no sense of destiny is no doubt a very boring fellow; a person with a sense of destiny and no sense of history is a very dangerous fellow.

… now why did that make me immediately think of Julius Malema?

I never drove white voters away: Malema

The Yanks have Sarah Palin; we have Julius Malema. I don’t know which is worse. I know that there are political loose cannons in every country, but, as someone once said, the trouble with political jokes is that they get elected.

I never drove white voters away: Malema: City Press: Politics: News:

Malema told delegates that it was not true that he drove whites away from the ANC, saying only that white voters never voted for the governing party even during former president Nelson Mandela’s leadership.

“They (whites) never voted for Mandela in 1994 and they never voted for (president) Thabo Mbeki,” he said.

Malema said whites had not voted for Mandela even when he was involved in reconciliation.

I’ve got news for you, my china.

I’m white, and I voted for Mandela in 1994.

I voted for Mbeki in 1999, though not in 2004.

In 2004 and 2009 I voted for Patricia de Lille and the ID, because I thought voices like Patricia de Lille’s needed to be heard in parliament.

I didn’t vote in the local government elections last month. I don’t get to vote for the mayor of Cape Town, and I didn’t even know who the candidates were in our ward. But the main reason was not ideological. I happened to be away on holiday (and you can see our best holiday pics here — I think they’re quite cool, even though I say so myself).

And more and more I’m seeing the truth of what G.K. Chesterton wrote:

When the business man rebukes the idealism of his office-boy, it is commonly in some such speech as this: “Ah, yes, when one is young, one has these ideals in the abstract and these castles in the air; but in middle age they all break up like clouds, and one comes down to a belief in practical politics, to using the machinery one has and getting on with the world as it is.” Thus, at least, venerable and philanthropic old men now in their honoured graves used to talk to me when I was a boy.

But since then I have grown up and have discovered that these philanthropic old men were telling lies. What has really happened is exactly the opposite of what they said would happen. They said that I should lose my ideals and begin to believe in the methods of practical politicians. Now, I have not lost my ideals in the least; my faith in fundamentals is exactly what it always was. What I have lost is my old childlike faith in practical politics. I am still as much concerned as ever about the Battle of Armageddon; but I am not so much concerned about the General Election. As a babe I leapt up on my mother’s knee at the mere mention of it. No; the vision is always solid and reliable. The vision is always a fact. It is the reality that is often a fraud. As much as I ever did, more than I ever did, I believe in Liberalism. But there was a rosy time of innocence when I believed in Liberals.

Or, as Jeremy Taylor used to sing:

One fine day I’ll make my way to 10 Downing Street
“Good day,” I’ll say, “I’ve come a long way excuse my naked feet.
But I lack, you see, the energy to buy a pair of shoes
I lose my zest to look my best when I read the daily news,
’cause it appears you’ve got an atom bomb
that’ll blow us all to hell and gone
I’ve I’ve gotta die then why should I
give a damn if my boots aren’t on.”

And the death of Albertina Sisulu last week rubs it in.

It’s not the atom bomb that threatens us now, but when I read the daily news it’s all about a bottomless sea of greed and mediocrity.

Politicians of Albertina Sisulu’s generation stood for something and they fought for something, and one could admire them.

If we had a General Election today I wouldn’t know who to vote for.

As someone else said, How do politicians resemble a bunch of bananas?

The answer: They’re all yellow, they hang together, and there’s not a straght one among them.

Actually there’s one guy left I might be prepared to take seriously.

That’s Zwelinzima Vavi, the trade union leader.

In today’s paper he was quoted as saying

You cannot tell the workers and the poor that your real ambition is accumulation and more and more (of an) expensive bourgeois lifestyle and opulence; you have to talk their language even though everything you are is about accumulation and self-centredness. Tenderpreneurs present themselves as mMessiahs to advance their narrow economic agenda.

At least he sees the problem, or part of it.

Trouble is, as long as the tripartite alliance lasts, there’s no chance of voting for him.

Afriforum versus Juju: a storm in a teacup

For the last week or so the media have been dominated by Afriforum’s vendetta against Julius Malema, the leader of the ANC Youth League.

They have brought an action against him in the Equality Court, charging him with “hate speech” for a song that he likes to sing, which has been dubbed by the media as “Shoot the Boer” or “Kill the boer, kill the farmer”. This song, or one similar to it, was apparently popularised in recent times by Peter Mokhaba, at least according to the media, though as far as I am aware none of the media have given the complete words or context of the song, preferring to sensationalise the story by relying on hints and innuendo, and taking mistranslated phrases out of context. There is, however, a web site that says it gives the complete lyrics of the song here. It seems that Afriforum got it wrong even in its particulars of claim, saying that the song referred to “ibhulu”, which means rambling talk or waffling. So, according to Afriforum’s particulars of claim, it is “hate speech” to say “cut the waffle”.

But if the song is a struggle song, as Julius Malema and his supporters claim, and the actual word is “iBhunu”, the Zulu word “iBhunu” does not mean farmer, or anything like it. “IBhunu” originally meant an Afrikaans or (earlier) Dutch-speaking white South African, being the Zulu version of Boer, which is what many of the Afrikaners refered to themselves as. And while it is etymologically derived from the Dutch “boer” (related to the German “bauer”, and English “boor”) it does not, in Zulu, mean “farmer”.

If one reasons like Afriforum (and the media), then Julius Malema and Peter Mokhaba were simply following in the footsteps of Alfred Lord Milner and Joseph Chamerlain, who started what the British themselves call the “Boer War”, and sent hundreds of thousands of British soldiers to South Africa between 1899 and 1902 to kill the boer, kill the farmer.

No doubt the likes of Afriforum would regard the imperialist rhetoric of Milner and Chamberlain as “hate speech” and they would probably be right. The British army certainly killed the wives and children of the farmers in the concentration camps they established as part of their scorched earth policy, as a way of fighting the Boer (farmer) War. Today that would undoubtedly called genocide.

But to look at what happened in the 19th century and the 21st century without looking at what happened in between is to miss a large chunk of the story — what happened in the mid-20th century which gave rise to the song.

And in the mid-20th century the Zulu word “amaBhunu” did not refer primarily to Afrikaners, but rather to the National Party regime with its army and security police, which were charged with enforcing the racist policy of apartheid and crushing opposition to it.

And it was in that context that such songs arose.

I used to sing some myself.

Ayasizonda, ayasizonda,
ayasizond’ amaphoyisa
Ayashis’ imoto yethu
Zasakaz’ izincwadi

(the police hate us, who burnt our car and distributed (smear) letters, sung to the tune of “Clementine”).

Which is similar to the Irish song, which is just as bad:

I don’t mind a bit if I shoot down police
They’re lackeys for war, never guardians of peace
But still at deserters I’ll never take aim
Those rebels who sold out the patriot game.

If Malema’s song is “hate speech”, then surely that is too.

To all accounts, all Afriforum have achieved with their court case so far is to make themselves look silly and Julius Malema look good. Sunday World said:

… it was AfriForum lawyer Martin Brassey who completed the morphing of Malema the loose cannon and reckless buffoon into a martyr for the masses.

This prompted Talk Radio 702 breakfast host John Robbie to remark that Malema had come out brilliantly.

“He didn’t just come out as bright but as very, very bright,” he said.

Political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi would say that if the plaintiffs came here thinking Malema was stupid, then they were underprepared.

The man who walked around with the tag of Village Puppet on his back was so rehabilitated that as he descended the dock to take his place behind his lawyer he got a “well done” pat on the back from ANC NEC member and chief supporter Winnie Madikizela-Mandela as he sat.

“He put up a spirited defence of the song and the struggle,” said Matshiqi. “And it showed up the imprudence of bringing such matters to the courts. All they have succeeded in doing is rehabilitate his image.”

So Afriforum’s efforts have been counterproductive.

It seems that Afriforum and its supporters are the rump of the white right, looking back to the apartheid era as some kind of Golden Age, and among the documents they cited in the case was a report from an outfit called Genocide Watch, which seems to be cited by right-wing conspiracy theorists because what it says about South Africa reflects their views (and that reflects very badly on Genocide Watch).

And perhaps Malema keeps singing the song because he is gratified to see how it annoys right-wing throwbacks like Afriforum’s constituency. It’s like a naughty little boy teasing his sister because the reaction far outweighs the provocation.

The problem that I see with all this is that the court case is between two bunches of buffoons, and at one level is a storm in a teacup that has been hyped into a media circus.

By choosing to fight over a trivial issue, magnified by Afrikaner-nationalist conspiracy theorist rhetoric (which is amplified by organisations like Genocide Watch), Afriforum and their supporters (and the media who report on such things) miss the real danger, which is Malema’s uncritical support for dictators like Robert Mugabe, which bodes ill for the future of South Africa’s democracy. Should Julius Malema ever become president (and if he does, he will have Afriforum to thank for giving him a big boost along the way) then if he behaves like the tyrants he so publicly admires, he will himself have become an iBhunu, like Verwoerd, Vorster, Smith and Mugabe.

Kill the boer, kill the congresswoman

Last year Julius Malema (whom some refer to as Kiddi Amin) of the ANC Youth League was criticised for singing a song described in the media as “Kill the boer, kill the farmer”. And shortly after the controversy AWB leader Eugene Terreblanche was killed on his farm, and a couple of his farm workers were charged with murder. Some said, and others implied, that Malema’s singing of the song incited them. I’d still like to know the actual words of the song, and whether they do say what the media report them as saying.

But now a similar controversy has broken out about American politician Sarah Palin, who seems inclined to shoot off her mouth in loose cannon fashion as much as Julius Malema.

She posted a map on her Facebook page, showing gunsights aimed at a map with several American politicians that she wanted taken out, electorally, one hopes. But now one of them, Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, has been taken out, literally, by gunfire, and Sarah Palin, like Julius Malema, is being accused of inciting this with her target map.

There is often a big gap between rhetoric and reality, and sometimes people say things metaphorically that they do not mean to be taken literally, yet there are often people who do take them literally. And now the Facebook page is full of accusations against Sarah Palin similar to those made against Julius Malema last year when Eugene Terreblanche was killed.

Politics is getting interesting again, thanks to two fascist clowns

Easter week of 2010 will be remembered as the week when politics in South Africa became interesting again, thanks to two political clowns and the media.

On the left, Eugene Terre’blanche (known as ET), former leader of the AWB (Afrikanner Resistance Movement), and on the right, Julius Malema, leader of the ANC Youth League.

ET made headlines by the manner of his death, and the rumours that circulated around it, and his political buffoonery lay in the past, though his funeral was a circus, if media accounts are to be believed, and some of his supporters appear to believe that Julius Malema’s racist rhetoric at least contributed to his death, if it was not directly responsible for it.

But, as the front page of City Press shows, they were actually birds of a feather, both dedicated to overblown fascist and racist rhetoric. But a nation divided? I doubt it. Both these demagogues appealed to small but vocal minorities, and they have been boosted by much media attention.

For ten years or more, politics has been excessively boring. Endless stories of graft and corruption, and fat cats jockeying for position. In the apartheid days we were largely protected from such stories because the press was kept on a tight leash by the National Party regime. The best one could say about the corruption stories was that they showed we now have a free press.

But the antics of ET and Malema and their supporters provide entertainment, and the media are determined to give it to us. Not all of the jounalism is responsible, though. One can expect sensationalism from tabloids like The Sun, but even “responsible” papers like the Sunday Independent could not resist a sensation-mongerring headline like

Was ET gay and bonking darkies?

based on the rumour that a used condom had been found in the room where ET was murdered. The police had categorically denied that a condom had been found, but the Sunday Independent was not about to let the facts get in the way of a good story. They did include the police denial — in small print, right at the bottom. So the antics of the media are almost as entertaining as those of the protagonists.

But it also reaches the point where it goes beyond a joke.

The last straw was when Julius Malema kicked a BBC journalist, Jason Fisher, out of a press conference, claiming he had been insulted.

Malema apparently castigated the Movement for Democratic Change, the Zimbabwean opposition group, for speaking from their air-conditioned offices in Sandton. And Fisher pointed out that Malema himself lived in Sandton, and Malema blew his top.

Any politician in a democratic society with a sense of proportion would probably have grinned, said “Touché!” or something similar, and moved on.

The fact that Malema perceived that as an insult and lost his cool over it and kicked the journalist out speaks volumes. It doesn’t matter what Malema said. The words he used are not important. It his actions that show that he is a fascist, with no sense of democracy, and no sense of proportion.

As another journalist in City Press, Xolela Mangcu, put it, “Il Duce step aside: a fascist fire rages in Malema.”

If Malema had any political nous at all he would see that as an insult, and an insult far worse than saying that he lived in Sandton.

As Mangcu says of this incident

Perhaps a little world history could be helpful in opening our eyes to what Malema’s reaction could mean for our young democracy and people.

The historical figure I have in mind is Italy’s fascist leader, Benito Mussolini. On the eve of Mussolini’s reign as prime minister a critic asked him about his party’s political programme. Mussolini mocked the critic thus: “The democrats of Il Mondo want to know our programme? It is to break the bones of the democrats of Il Mondo, and the sooner the better.”

Mussolini concluded his tirade thus: “The fist is the synthesis of our theory.”

And that statement is a pretty good summary of the political programme and philosophy of ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe, which Malema has just visited, and spoken admiringly of ZANU-PF.

This, is of course, an embarrassment to the leadership of the ANC, which is trying to portray itself as a neutral honest broker between ZANU-PF and the MDC, an image which Malema’s blatant partisanship has shattered. His outburst to the BBC journalist has shown his true colours. It bodes ill for our democracy if his political career goes any further. Xolela Mangcu is hopeful that it won’t

Could Malema be the face of the replacement of politics with violence? I doubt it. Malema will ultimately trip on his own words. Besides, South Africa is too complex and differentiated to fall under the rule of one Il Duce.

I hope he’s right.

But if anyone is getting cold feet about coming to South Africa for the World Cup for fear of a bloodbath, don’t worry about it. Julius Malema is unlikely to become president this year, or next year, or any time for the next nine years. And a lot can happen in nine years. South Africa has plenty of precedents of politicians who appeared to have a meteoric rise, and had a sputtering fall. Tielman Roos, for example. Anyone remember him? With any luck, Julius Malema will go the same way.

Mugabe, Malema and the future of South Africa

The death of Eugene Terre’blanche stole the news over the weekend and drew public attention away from something far more ominous for the future of South Africa — Julius Malema’s visit to Zimbabwe.

Mugabe, Malema on Terreblanche:

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and ANC Youth League president Julius Malema have discussed the murder of South African white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche during talks in Harare.

Mugabe met Malema — who was concluding a four-day visit to the country as a guest of Zanu PF — at State House for over two hours on Monday.

With reporters present, Mugabe spoke to Malema at length about Zimbabwe’s land reform programme and what he said was Britain’s failure to honour its obligations to white farmers whose properties were seized for resettlement.

Mugabe also praised South Africa as an unstinting ally against what he said was a global crusade by “imperialists” to remove his government through economic sabotage and propaganda.

Former President Thabo Mbeki was frequently criticised for taking a low profile on Zimbabwe, and refraining from public criticism of the fascist Mugabe regime.

Julius Malema has shown no such restraint, and has shown his true colours by praising the Mugabe regime. And this is a clear indication of one scenario for South Africa’s future: Julius Malema becomes president (possibly succeeding Jacob Zuma), and then it’s goodbye to our hard-won democracy. Perhaps in another 15 years time there will be South African refugees sleeping in the Methodist Church in Harare.

Look at what has happened.

Malema is welcomed in Zimbabwe, and praises the leadership of the Zanu-PF and Robert Mugabe. In South Africa he has attacked the trade unions and Cosatu, and just a few years ago, far from meeting Mugabe, a Cosatu delegation was turned away at the Zimbabwe border.

The white, Western and capitalist press has concentrated its criticism of the Mugabe regime on its “land reform” policies, which has entailed the seizure of land from white farmers, and its redistribution among relatives and supporters of high-ups in Zanu-PF.

But long before that, Mugabe attacked the trade unions, which was of less interest to the white, Western and capitalist press.

To understand this one must go back to the 1990s, when Mugabe sent Zimbabwean troops to intervene in civil wars in the Congo. In these foreign military adventures he resembles Tony Blair and George Bush, whom he professes to dislike. In reality, they are birds of a feather.

Foreign military adventures are expensive, and depleted Zimbabwe’s foreign currency reserves. This in turn led to fuel shortages, which in turn led to an economic recession, particularly in the towns. Businesses were closed, workers were laid off, and the Zimbabwean trade unions were up in arms. Opposition to Mugabe’s policies grew, and in a referendum some constitutional amendments that would, among other things, have made Mugabe president for life, were rejected by the electorate.

This was a wake-up call for Mugabe. If he could lose a referendum, he could also lose an election.

But instead of reversing the unpopular economic policies that had caused the problem, he exacerbated it by instituting his land redistribution scheme as an electoral ploy to buy the rural vote. If Mugabe were sincere about land reform, he had had 20 years to do something about it, and had done nothing. It was only the threat of losing an election that made him bring it in hastily, for the purpose of buying votes. And in the way it was implemented exacerbated the economic problems as Zimbabwe’s agricultural productivity plummeted. The foreign exchange problems worsened as tobacco, the main export crop, virtually disappeared. In a couple of years Zimbabwe went from being the bread basket of central Africa to basket case, as hyperinflation took hold.

The opposition grew stronger and reorganised, and coalesced around the trade unions, to form the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). And they have a natural affinity for Cosatu in South Africa, which is why the Cosatu delegation was turned away at the Zimbabwe border.

But who is Malema talking to?

News – Politics: Malema upsets MDC:

ANC Youth League president Julius Malema has upset the Zimbabwean political party, the Movement for Democratic Change, by meeting only Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF on a visit to Harare.

‘Is Mr Malema saying that the ANC does not respect democracy and is willing to ignore the millions of Zimbabweans who sent Zanu-PF packing in the corridors of power?’ asked Austin Moyo, chairman of the MDC in South Africa, at a media briefing in Johannesburg on Thursday.

‘Does Malema understand that there are millions of liberation heroes in the MDC?’

Moyo said Malema made it clear that he would be visiting the Zanu-PF because it was ‘a revolutionary party’.

At the moment Cosatu is still allied to the ANC in the tripartite alliance, but if Malema should ever become president Cosatu will have the choice — become a lapdog, or follow the Zimbabwe trade unions into the political wilderness, and form an equivalent of the MDC.

allAfrica.com: South Africa: Vavi to Tackle ANC Over Malema’s ‘Disdain’:

CONGRESS of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi yesterday said the bilateral meeting with the African National Congress (ANC) next week would be an opportunity to deal with how the ANC’s actions had threatened Cosatu’s functionality within the tripartite alliance.

ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema’s public mudslinging against Cosatu, the ANC’s unilateral decision banning municipal workers from taking up leadership positions in political parties, and a ‘general lack of commitment by the ANC to make the federation one of its political centres’, had left the alliance in a crisis, Vavi said at the National Union of Metalworkers’ National Bargaining Conference yesterday.

‘The oppression and super- exploitation of workers remains widespread – despite government and union efforts.

What South Africa lacks, and probably needs, is a strong and coherent left opposition, preferably before a fascist takeover. Is Zwelinzima Vavi up to it? The tragedy of the assassination of Chris Hani continues to haunt us.

And perhaps Thabo Mbeki kept quiet because he saw how easily what was happening in Zimbabwe could happen in South Africa, and lead to the break-up of the tripartite alliance. He preferred the Ronald Reagan approach of “constructive engagement”.

The death of ET and immaturity of our democracy

In today’s Sunday Independent there is an interesting article by Mcebisi Ndletyana, which which he offers a defence of the song “Kill the Boer”, which a high court judge recently declared was “hate speech”.

Unfortunately I (or Google) could not find a version of Ndletyana’s article on the web that I could link to, which is a pity, because it it worth reading for the historical background.

Ndletyana points out that the song is not racist in the sense of being anti-white, because the late Joe Slovo, who was white, used to sing it with great gusto. The song was not in my political repertoire, but I used to sing one that had similar references:

Mayibuye, mayibuye,
mayibuy’ iAfrika
eyathathwa ngamaBhunu
sisasebumnyameni.

(Let Afrika return, which was taken by the Boers when we were still in darkness)

And, lest I be suspected of “Boerehaat”, there was another verse that referred to “amaNgisi” (the English), in the same context.

But I nevertheless agree with the judge, and disagree with Mcebisi Ndletyana, in that I think that singing such songs now is an anachronism, and a sign of political immaturity. But maturity never was the strong point of the likes of Julius Malema.

Back in the bad old days of apartheid “amaBhunu” referred, pretty clearly, to the National Party government, alias the Apartheid Regime. And such songs were directed at encouraging people in the struggle against a hated and oppressive regime.

There are some paranoid people who believe that there is a deliberate campaign of genocide against white farmers in South Africa. Singing such songs at political rallies now tends to fuel such paranoia, and some appear to believe that the recent murder of the notorious white supremacist Eugene Terreblance (ET) is further proof of the exiatence of such a conspiracy.

Malema’s political idiocy also extends to attempting to hijack the Sharpeville massacre for the ANC, and to downplay the role of the PAC. His public utterances continually remind us that we no longer have people of the political stature of Robert Sobukwe with us.

The fact is that after 16 years of democracy, struggle songs like “Shoot the Boer” no longer mean what they once did.

But there are other, more serious indications of political immaturity.

That can be seen in the tendency to destroy buildings and damage property in protests over lack of “service delivery”. Pretoria station was burnt down by angry commuters because trains were late. In another instance, Soshanguve commuters burnt trains because the trains were late, and then complained that there was no train service, when they themselves had destroyed the trains.

Back in the 1980s the apartheid regime erected the showpiece township of Ekangala, north of Bronkhorstspruit. Half of it was run by the KwaNdebele government, and half by the East Rand Administration Board, and which half one lived in made a big difference to one’s right to live and work in urban areas. Residents burnt down the administration offices, which destroyed the records of who lived where. It was a direct attack on the system, and made political sense at the time, because the people concerned had no vote.

But now people do have a vote, and so it makes no sense to burn trains and public libraries and other public or private property. Local government elections are coming up, and if people are dissatisfied with service delivery, or with the performance of their municipal councillors, they now have a democratic remedy — to organise people to vote them out. That is the way democracy works — not by burning down libraries and stations.

Burning buildings and singing provocative songs made sense when there was a government did not have to listen because most of those it was oppressing had no vote. In fact part of the struggle was to ensure that everyone had the vote, and the political freedom to organise to toss self-serving politicians out. We’ve had that freedom for 16 years now, and it’s time we began to use it.

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