Malema rantings good for ANC foes

OUTBURSTS; Julius Malema. 25/02/09. Pic. Peter Mogaki. © Sowetan.
OUTBURSTS; Julius Malema. 25/02/09. Pic. Peter Mogaki. © Sowetan.

ANC youth leader Julius Malema really had a busy week dishing out his usual rantings against political opponents . As usual, his pet hates - the Democratic Alliance and the Congress of the People - were top of the list to receive his wrath.

ANC youth leader Julius Malema really had a busy week dishing out his usual rantings against political opponents . As usual, his pet hates - the Democratic Alliance and the Congress of the People - were top of the list to receive his wrath.

He accused the DA of having "Michael Jackson-like policies".

Knowing the antics of Mr Neverland, one can deduce that Malema does not think much of the DA. In his salvo against Cope, he called its leaders "ultra-rightwin-gers who abandoned the ANC".

He also accused Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota and his deputy Mbhazima Shilowa of not having confidence in their moral rectitude, hence their decision to rope in a man of the cloth perceived to be of higher morals - Bishop Mvume Dandala.

Malema then put his cross hairs on Lekota, accusing him of being a corrupt tribalist.

Observers have always commented on how Malema put the opposition parties in the limelight with his utterances against them.

On Wednesday, he seemed to have outdone himself by launching a scathing attack on suspended SA Airways chief executive officer Khaya Ngqula.

Malema accused Ngqula of not being loyal to the ANC and therefore not deserving to head a parastatal owned by the ANC-led government. He told striking SAA employees that Ngqula was loyal to Cope because he attended last year's national convention where the breakaway party was born.

Malema also said Ngqula must go and work in companies owned by Cope.

Essentially Malema's outbursts confirm what Cope has been arguing about in its election campaign - that the civil service has been politicised to the extent that only individuals loyal to the ANC are holding key positions.

At another level Malema's assertions are undermining a key sine qua non for a successful developmental state that the ANC aspires for.

In his book From Poverty to Power, Duncan Green says one of the key features of successful developing countries in recent years is that "civil servants were largely selected on merit rather than because of personal or party connections".

Green goes on to argue that a successful developmental state must manage the balancing act of keeping at arm's length groups seeking to "capture the state for their own short-term gain, yet must remain deeply integrated into society in order to understand the needs and possibilities of the economy".

"This 'embedded autonomy' requires a skilled civil service, based on meritocratic appointments."

This is the quandary that Malema seems to fail to grasp by wanting to dismiss Ngqula simply because he is part of "the ultra-rightwing camp enemy that has left the ANC".

Malema and those who agree with him seek to project Cope as a party that seeks to "capture" the state for its reactionary and rightwing agenda - which is not in the interests of the broader transformation agenda.

As far as he is concerned, only people loyal to the ANC can be trusted to head parastatals like SAA.

This does not augur well for an inclusive corporative government that should drive the transformation agenda.

Ngqula must be fired if it is found that he has mismanaged the airline. He must not be fired because he is loyal to Cope.

To his credit, Malema seems to have buttoned on Cope's strategy of using the moral ticket in its election campaign.

The party's strategy in this regard can be seen by its targeting of religious leaders as candidates for key positions. First it was Frank Chikane, who was earmarked as the party's candidate for the Gauteng premiership. Then it was former South African Council of Churches president Russel Botman, whom the party wanted as a candidate for the Western Cape premiership. Former head of the World Council of Churches Allan Boesak has now been approached for the position after Botman declined.

Now there is Dandala as the party's presidential candidate.

The strategy is to use these leaders against ANC president Jacob Zuma - whose moral rectitude is under question.

One of the dangers Cope faces by putting its leaders on a moral pedestal is that they could fall on their faces if they could be linked to anything "immoral".

Since this is the silly season of electioneering, anything is possible.

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