Sun Oct 23 01:49:06 CAT 2016

I'm honest and not a monster

By unknown | Apr 17, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Thobeka Magcai

Fiery ANC Youth League president Julius Malema is known to many as controversial, outspoken and a loose cannon.

But in an up-close and personal interview with Sowetan, the firebrand chats about his matric results, woodwork jokes, political career and his impoverished background. He also reveals his ideal woman.

We met in Cape Town, on the campaign trail to woo students and the city's voters.

Malema grew up in "a poverty-stricken" township in Seshego, Limpopo, known as Masakeng Zone 1.

"That's where you find the poorest of the poor and I come from one of the poorest families," he says.

His mother and grandmother, who were both domestic workers, struggled to support him.

"I went to school without shoes or a proper uniform," he says adding that during lunch time he sometimes wouldn't even know where his next meal would come from.

"My grandmother pulled together her family of nine children and many grandchildren. Even when her husband passed away, she remained strong and brought everybody together for the right cause," says Malema.

As an only child, he lived with his late mother Flora, who died from epilepsy about three years ago, and his grandmother Sarah Malema, who still lives in Seshego where he will cast his vote.

"That's where I'm registered, that is where my granny lives, so I must go and vote next to my granny because it is an important thing to do," says Malema.

He says, with him, what people see is what they get.

"I'm an honest person and I like people who are honest. I hate pretenders.

"The picture that has been created is that Julius Malema is a monster and you cannot even share a glass of coke with him. But I have friends like any other person and I'm a father of one son, Ratanang, who is two years old."

Malema plays down the attention he receives from women, denying being popular with them. He thinks women like nice things and, since becoming ANCYL president, he feels he is not popular with the opposite sex.

"Perhaps women are scared of me because I have been projected as a monster that is unapproachable, very rough, controversial, irresponsible, reckless and all that.

"Women like nice things, they don't like the things I've been called. I've never had a situation where women throw themselves at me," said Malema

Malema says he is single and not bad looking, but adds, "but she must be creative, not dependant on a man, an independent thinker with ideas, who is challenging and career conscious".

He says he is too young for marriage, and right now he is married to the ANC.

"Marriage is for people older than 35. Women need lots of time, which some of us as activists do not have.

He cited Fikile Mbalula, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the late Peter Mokaba, Jacob Zuma and Kgalema Motlanthe as some of the people who have influenced his political career.

He says he is closer to Motlanthe than to Zuma. "I don't even have comrade Zuma's phone numbers, but I speak to Motlanthe every now and again."

Malema does not seem to mind the endless jokes made about him by "comedians" on what he says are "unverified" matric results, and will not be offended by something that is unrealistic. He therefore refuses to discuss his education.

"My education has been a topical issue in the media, including my results being circulated without anybody verifying whether they are genuine or not. If that makes people laugh, why not make jokes about it?

"I've always refused to debate my education with people because nobody requested for my CV or qualifications before they elected me. They wanted my loyalty, dedication and discipline," says Malema.

On his being referred to as a buffoon and a loose cannon, Malema says: "If this was the case, why would influential companies and people call me to give speeches or the youth league to help solve problems. It shows that people want to hear what we have to say and they take us very seriously."

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