[notice]Pastor Afrika Mhlophe shares some observations on the suspended ANC Youth League leader and the system that produced him.[/notice]
If you are a visitor to our beloved country and are wondering what the fuss about Julius Malema is, you are not the only one.
I was born here and yet I am in the dark as to why everyone and every news outlet seem to be making such an issue about this individual. When you do an internet search of his name Google returns over 2 million pages about him. He is even listed on Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia which sometimes has unreliable and questionable data. In this information age and mass media world we are living in, soliciting publicity is not that difficult unless of course you are doing something that is making a positive contribution in people’s lives.
A few months ago I was in Europe and the leading stories in BBC World Report were; the Greek economy, the resignation of Italy’s Prime Minister, and Julius Malema’s 5-year suspension from the ANC.
Julius was born in 1981 in a township called Seshego which is in the province of Limpopo. His date of birth rules him out as a struggle veteran. He never contributed anything to the liberation of this country. I presumed that this was the basic qualification to higher government office and largesse offered from the state coffers. It is understandable for people who spent most of their productive years fighting in the struggle to be rewarded with high paying government posts because after all, they have few remaining years to work and generate a generous pension. It is however preferable if these people are able to perform the tasks they are appointed to.
Claim to fame
Julius Malema’s claim to fame is that he is a former president of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS). It is as the president of this chaotic organisation that in 2002 he led a march in Johannesburg that degenerated into an orgy of violence and the looting of hawkers’ stalls.
Much has been said about Julius’ matric results but it is the time he took to finish high school that is even more interesting to me. He was apparently 21 years old when he finally matriculated. This then rules him out as someone with intellectual depth although, I must add, a person’s intellect cannot be solely measured by his performance in high school. People are sometimes presented with opportunities to redeem themselves and make up for adverse and less than satisfactory past results. Very few young people have been presented with as many opportunities as Julius has. His role as the President of the ANC Youth League gave unfettered access to even the highest office in the land. He is leading an organisation that is supposed to be the vanguard of youth development and a glimmer to the aspirations of many young people’s lives.
What Julius did in his tenure as the president of the Youth League is a text book case of the corrupting nature of power. They say absolute power corrupts but I believe it is the already corrupted that get corrupted by power. I have worked with individuals who portrayed themselves as youth leaders and I can tell you that the criterion used to elect someone to office is not what you think it is. People are not elected because of their passion for the development of youth or for their fresh and innovative ideas. It is the loud-mouthed, unmannerly, intolerant people who always get elected. There is one youth league leader who went on radio and called certain local councillors stooges. He even used this unsavoury term to refer to the then serving mayor. I would guess that those councillors and the mayor herself were old enough to be his parents. Because of these achievements this individual got catapulted into the executive leadership of the ANC Youth League.
Product of flawed system
Julius Malema is therefore a product of this flawed and discredited system. He himself was elected in a disordered conference where delegates threw chairs at each other and exposed their buttocks to the media. I am looking forward to his departure from SA’s national political landscape. He can afford to retire because he has earned more in seven years than people earn in a lifetime.
Some of his disciples are in mourning following the finding of the ANC National Disciplinary Committee of Appeal. There are two main reasons why he has enjoyed support in some quarters. First is that there are many young people in dire circumstances who look up to him to liberate them from their terrible condition. Secondly there are people who have benefitted from his patronage and cronyism and want him to remain in his post so that he can help them maintain their undeserved lifestyle. This is what politics are about. They are about the hope. The poor are hoping to escape their poverty and the rich are hoping to grow their riches. In the main politicians are not there to serve the people but they serve themselves at the expense of the people. People who are saddened with Malema’s imminent departure are his handlers and those who benefitted from his antics.