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'The rise and fall of Malema'

By Elvis Masoga | Mar 02, 2012 | COMMENTS [ 94 ]

THE once-powerful president of the ANC Youth League, Julius Malema, walked a very slippery political tightrope until he was expelled from the ANC. How did it all happen?

It is important that we analyse the factors that contributed to "the rise and fall" of Malema.

His election as youth league president in 2008 marked the rise of the "Malema factor" in the country's political discourse.

It epitomised the apex of his political career.

Soon after his election Juju publicly lambasted and ordered the National Prosecuting Authority to drop fraud and corruption charges against ANC president Jacob Zuma.

With unrivalled militancy he declared that "we are prepared to take up arms and kill for Zuma".

He dramatically turned the youth league into a radical youth political organisation.

News of his enormous power and influence travelled fast beyond the borders of the country. Foreign media powerhouses such as BBC, CNN, Sky News and Al-Jazeera suddenly developed an instant fascination with the "Malema factor". It was an incredulous moment because he was only 27 years old.

He skillfully employed a combination of militant oration, coercive persuasion and populism to outsmart and outmanoeuvre his opponents and adversaries.

He placed the youth league at the helm of a mass-based campaign aimed at paving and clearing the way for Zuma to become state president - at all costs.

In September 2008 Malema publicly stated that "the cause of problems in this country is (then state president) Thabo Mbeki".

He was the first ANC politician to publicly declare that Mbeki would be removed as state president. And by the end of September 2008, Mbeki had been recalled from the Union Buildings by the ANC's national executive committee.

ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe was strategically appointed "caretaker" president of the country.

Interestingly, Malema never failed to remind Motlanthe that he was just there (as caretaker president) to keep the presidential seat warm for Zuma.

To the jubilation of Msholozi's supporters and allies, the NPA announced in April 2009, just before the general elections, that it had dropped all corruption charges against Zuma.

It was a great political and moral victory for Zuma because those corruption charges were an albatross around his neck.

As expected, the ANC won the 2009 general elections with a landslide victory and Zuma was elected and inaugurated as president. These political developments emboldened Juju's political power within the ANC.

As kingmaker Juju believed it was his penultimate duty "to provide political direction" to the new Zuma administration.

The firebrand youth leader began to issue directives and ultimatums to cabinet ministers and premiers.

The prevailing general impression was that the ANC was virtually afraid of Malema and his ultra-militant youth league. As president of the league he sat on the ANC's decision-making bodies. He was convinced he was invincible.

His "tough talk" and unflinching militancy made him the most feared politician in the country. He picked up radical themes which had a potential to destabilise the country.

His ultra-nationalist rhetoric injected fear among whites.

Almost all leaders of opposition parties tasted the wrath of Malema's vitriolic tongue.

In the midst of that ideological warfare in the alliance towards the end of 2009, Malema defended the ANC's policies and attacked leaders of the SACP and Cosatu.

He charged that Blade Nzimande and his fellow "yellow communists" did not understand the ANC because they spent too much time drinking red wine.

Since his rise to political prominence, Malema projected himself as the champion of the poor and the unemployed. He pleaded poverty on many occasions.

Reports later surfaced that Juju was a mega-rich businessman who owned multi-million rand properties in Johannesburg and Polokwane and companies that benefitted handsomely from Limpopo government tenders and contracts.

Pressure from within and outside the ruling party began to mount on Zuma to rein in and discipline Malema.

In 2010, Malema hurled vitriolic insults at BBC journalist during a press conference in Luthuli House. As if that was not enough, he later compared Zuma unfavourably to Mbeki.

Because of that, the ANC national disciplinary committee stepped in and charged Malema for sowing divisions and causing disunity in the party.

A plea bargain was struck, and Malema was slapped with a two-year suspended sentence.

This was on condition that he should not violate the ANC Constitution within two years.

That epic moment signalled the beginning of tensions between Malema and Zuma.

The youth league suddenly resolved that Zuma and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe should be replaced at the party's national elective conference later this year.

The "Young Lions" declared "war" on Zuma's government policies and his leadership style. They adopted "nationalisation of mines" as policy and called on government to expropriate land (from whites) without compensation.

In a pointed attack on Zuma, Juju opined that a country's president must be "respected by all sections of society and must have academic qualifications."

It is an open secret that Zuma does not possess such. He heaped praises on Mbeki's intellect, describing him as the best president "ever produced" by the ANC.

At the league's elective conference in Midrand last year, Juju was re-elected unopposed as president. The calls for ANC leadership changes by the league were made in defiance of the ANC's instruction to bar its members from partaking in "succession debate".

Last year he announced that they would support moves to topple President Ian Khama's government in Botswana.

The ANC reacted with fury over the league's "reckless, thoughtless and childish statement".

On November 10 2011, the NDC slapped Malema and league's colleagues with suspensions from the party. The league criticised the verdict and alleged that it was predetermined by some ANC leaders who are "notoriously opposed to the league's militant policies."

As anticipated, all implicated league leaders resolved to appeal the NDC verdict to the party's national disciplinary committee of appeal (NDCA).

The NDCA recently upheld the guilty verdict imposed on Malema, league spokesman Floyd Shivambu and secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa.

The case of barging into the meeting of the national officials of the ANC was dismissed.

The NDCA agreed with the appellants that they deserve an opportunity to present mitigating factors before sentencing.

On Wednesday night Malema was expelled from the ANC.

His expulsion implies that his illustrious political career is now gone, dead and buried.

Zuma is likely to be re-elected ANC president in December.

But Zuma and his allies should be reminded of the essence of the "law of karma" (what goes around, comes around).

  • Masoga is a political researcher and analyst at the Institute for Dialogue and Policy Analysis

COMMENTS [ 94 ]

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@TCT, the government in SA that was setup in 1994 never allowed for none of the people to have a voice in the government. Not one person in SA has ever been elected in the government from the president on down. If SA was a democracy, people like Malema would not exist because the people never elected him to be a dog catcher. Malema had become a self appointed kingmaker and was calling the shot who live and who dies.

Mar 02, 2012 11:6 | 0 replies

BLACK-MISLEAD
@Traveljunie
The issue at hand is simple is that we will always be caught out by the capitalist because manier of our people have taken the task to educate themselves and once that is done its not enough because a white man will never allow you to succeed and today the unemployed are made up of those black educated chaps. if i may ask have you walked in the sh@es of a black who wants to start business knock on those capitalist financial institutions and maybe you would understand that the playing field is not equal. I wonder what happens to all those capitilst kid that pass matric with an S do they all end in the call centres like our own greduates. Please we need to acknowledge that before we talk business and all that we first need to make means that those resources are avaialable to us. Lets not be fooled

>>>>>>

The only way to have a successful business in SA is if you are black and have a ANC connection. I have not heard Malema whining about how hard is to raise capital for a new venture. Maybe one day you realise that you have been barking up the racist tree - meantime the cat is sitting on the ANC roof.

Mar 02, 2012 12:5 | 0 replies

Mjamisto - What does it matter my friend...its 2012 not 1812

Mar 02, 2012 12:7 | 0 replies

Matlakeng
I am not a suporter of JUJU but please let us stop the insults. The way I see it if Juju is not assasinated He will go to prison and given his age He will definately come back at some stage in the ANC and He will come back BOLD. These are just lessons He had to go through and they are actually adding more chapters in the history books that He is writing. The boy was not made powerful He is powerful and He has all the money and character to bounce back in. He brought Zuma back in record time I do not see how can't He bring himself back.
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Where and how did Julius make the money you are refering to? How did he make Zuma? What is powerful about a young boy who has matric and has a very limited political knowledge? Just asking and not fighting at all with you. Before you answer; please also observe that there is not vulgar in my vocabulary!!!

Mar 02, 2012 12:17 | 0 replies

@ Mjamisto

Kgalema Motlanthe is Tswana
Paul Mashatile is Pedi
Tokyo Sexwale is Venda

Why Are you Asking a lot like these?What's wrong?I think you should just accept people by their Leadership Credentials and stop Judging whether other tribes are better than others...

CLEAR...

Mar 02, 2012 12:32 | 0 replies

It is too early to write Malema 's obituary- the game has just began. Rise i agree but fall--- Not certain.

Mar 02, 2012 12:48 | 0 replies

@mgeez
Where and how did Julius make the money you are refering to? How did he make Zuma? What is powerful about a young boy who has matric and has a very limited political knowledge? Just asking and not fighting at all with you. Before you answer; please also observe that there is not vulgar in my vocabulary!!!
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Who was vocal about recalling Mbeki? who contributed to rallying support for the Zuma case? who in Polokwane with COSATU ousted Mbeki? MGEEZ you would crumble in court if you were to take the stand and yet young boy with matric kept calm and came out better than when he walked inm is he studying towards his law degree. It is appauling when a black person rubbishes achievements of fellow black people, it is for this behaviour that the African dream will remain just that.

Mar 02, 2012 1:2 | 0 replies

Well there is somewhere where he was right about the issues where the old oukies did not solve.

But, I repeat but, he was too big headed and wanted to rule by the iron feast like Mugabe and it does not work that way. I must say there is somewhere where he was right but he was just too much!!

Shame JUJU boy its not easy to be a politician, you were supposed to be a jackal in a sheep's skin.
Just like the Nigerians do, being pastors in the church and at the same time dealing in drugs.

Mar 02, 2012 1:9 | 0 replies

@FarCeSpotter
The only way to have a successful business in SA is if you are black and have a ANC connection. I have not heard Malema whining about how hard is to raise capital for a new venture. Maybe one day you realise that you have been barking up the racist tree - meantime the cat is sitting on the ANC roof.
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Nonsense, finacial institutions refuse to listen to plenty black businesses and aspirant business people, the fields are not equal, espcially that white s have our land to put forward for financial security. Why hasn't Madonsela pronounce on the investigation of the 20 odd billion the was stolen by white s from the SA government inthe late 80's/ early 90's? they must also pay for the theft

Mar 02, 2012 1:11 | 0 replies

He came, He saw, He conqured. If he was a musician he would have sold out concerts. Malema did what youngsters dream of, and will never achieve. He was the "most feared politician" to ever walk the face of South African politics. Imagine how dangerous he will be as a mere citizen of the republic without restrictions. My f.e.a.r is one, as much as he will have no restrictions, he will also be unprotected.
@ Sowetan - F@ck you guys, F.E.A.R is not a vulgar, discriminatory or abisive word.

Mar 02, 2012 1:22 | 0 replies

Go JUJU go!

I wish you have lot of support! The more you have the more the ANC is divided - the sooner DA will come back and restore some order in the government. We the people have had enough of the looting muppets.

Mar 02, 2012 12:1 | 0 replies