I have made up my mind about this man. Have you?
Julius Malema has been described by the current South African president, Jacob Zuma, as “ the future leader “ of South Africa. He is less favourably described as a reckless populist with the potential to destabilise South Africa and spark racial conflict.
In 1995 Malema was elected chairman of the ANC Youth League branch in Seshego where he was born and brought up. Later, in 1997 he was elected as chairman of the Congress of South African Students in Limpopo Province and then chairman of the national body of the same organisation in 2001. In 2002 he led a COSAS march by school pupils through the streets of Johannesburg. This march was characterised by incidents of violence and looting. His first election as ANC Youth League leader was also characterised by unruly behaviour amongst supporters and detractors.
Earlier this year, as leader of his new EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) he led a protest march on his university’s main campus, disrupting lectures and university business, but was keenly supported by university staff.
Some media analysts have depicted him as an orator with broad appeal in the young, poor and disadvantaged black electorate. Critics have described him as a demagogue. When Afriform brought the case of hate speech against him the aggressive and patronizing questioning of black witnesses by lawyers for the Afrikaner movement allowed Malema to portray himself as a victim of Afrikaner persecution.
In 2010 on a visit to neighbouring Zimbabwe, Malema branded that country’s opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, as an ally of “ imperialists “, thus emulating Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, in engaging in anti-colonial rhetoric.
Malema has blamed Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change for the political violence in Zimbabwe and has defended Mugabe’s political and human rights record. He has praised Mugabe’s land seizures and it is ironic to note that he encouraged South Africa’s youth to follow the example of Zimbabwe’s youth, because it is mostly Mugabe’s so-called war veterans who are responsible for the land invasions. Many ‘war veterans’ were either not born, or still infants at the time of Zimbabwe’s civil war.
It is interesting to note that most Zimbabwean youths still attend tertiary institutions and are not involved in violent protests. Julius Malema has since undertaken to make nationalisation of South African land, mines and other enterprises a primary policy objective, even though it is not currently ANC policy. Indeed organisations such as the National Union of Mineworkers are opposed to Malema’s objective.
By January 1, 2014, all foreign business owners are required by Zimbabwean law to hand over control of their businesses to “local, indigenous” Zimbabweans. The foreigners in question are not only from the UK, Europe and China, but also emanate from fellow-African nations, particularly Nigeria.