[notice]Pastor Afrika Mhlophe says public figures like expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema are products of a corrupt, worldly system. ‘Can anything be done about it?’ he poses.[/notice]We held our breath and now we can afford to breathe a collective sigh of relief. There are two things that have occurred recently in South Africa that have enabled us to exhale loudly. First there is the fact that former president Nelson Mandela has been discharged from hospital. And secondly there is the expulsion of Julius Malema from the African National Congress (ANC). The very act of mentioning Dr Nelson Mandela and Julius Malema in the same sentence troubles me but let us suffer it to be so for now. The truth is Julius Malema is a product of the same ANC that produced Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Thabo Mbeki, and many other heroes and heroines of the liberation struggle.
The ANC Youth League was formed to add a semblance of militancy to the politics of this liberation movement. Dr Mandela and the late Walter Sisulu were once leaders of the Youth League. After the unbanning of the ANC the League was led by Peter Mokaba who served in Mandela’s cabinet but became notorious for his singing of “kill the boer, kill the farmer” song. He later died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 43 years. Parallels have been drawn between his leadership style and that of Malema. After Mr Mokaba, Lulu Johnson took over the reins of the Youth League. Mr Johnson also became a member of parliament but was relegated to political obscurity because of his extreme views on issues of land redistribution and such.
Malema was not self-made but self-serving
Mr Johnson was followed by Malusi Gigaba, then Fikile Mbalula and lately Julius Malema. Mr Mbalula, who is currently our Minister of Sports had a razor sharp tongue. He once referred to the women members of the ANC Women’s League as cows. He laid a solid foundation for the disastrous tenure of Julius Malema. Malema was not self-made but he was self-serving. But to be fair to him, he only did what he saw others before him do. Some of us had a mistaken notion of assuming that a president of the ANC Youth League would be a champion of youth development but we have learnt is that the post is about you and your cronies. Getting yourself into that post gives you access to government resources with which you can do with as you please. Remember that this government once paid hundreds of thousands of rands a year for Melama’s VIP protection, even though he was not even a member of parliament.
The Youth League fashions itself as kingmaker within the ruling party and therefore has clout with members of its executive committee. Remember it was Malema who told us that former President Thabo Mbeki would not finish a week as president of this country and on Saturday of that week Mbeki was recalled by the ruling party. The term “recall” is a euphemism for “fired.” Malema had an air of invincibility about him and could speak any way he liked to anyone, regardless of their age, position and gender. He was uncouth and uncultured but was protected because he was useful to many influential people in the ANC. It is these politics of patronage and cronyism that are a breeding ground for the likes of Malema.
System dependent on largesse must be defeated
South African politics is profitable and there are way too many young black people who have unprofitable lives. There are many right now who are positioning themselves to profit from the demise of Malema. Malema is a product of a system and as long as that system remains then the likes of him will continue being produced. The system that creates dependence on government largesse and proximity to political power needs to be defeated. The economic disparities that are a breeding ground for discontent among many black people (young men in particular) needs to be dealt with. These young men now go around and purport to speak on behalf of the marginalized masses and style themselves as liberation activists, when some were not even born during the height of SA’s liberation struggle. They are like the so-called military veterans of Zimbabwe who violently expropriate land and are actually young men of my age.
People who support Malema are not naïve but are calculating individuals. They fall into categories of those who genuinely need upliftment and those who are already uplifted but need to protect and secure their privileged positions. Malema has poisoned SA public discourse and many of us have cringed every time he opened his loose mouth. He was a scarecrow that his handlers used against their opponents but he seems to have now passed his sell-by date. He was a product of a corrupt and illegitimate worldly system and although we may rejoice we must also ask ourselves, what next or more appropriately, who is next?
The youth that these people are supposed to represent are nothing but fodder and ladder to their own advancement and enrichment. Look at the cars they drive in comparison to young people who have to depend on public transport. Melema is said to be building a R16 million house in Sandton and it is not even his only property. He wears a wrist watch that retails for R250 000. These people drink expensive alcohol and are able to fly first class to exotic destinations around the world. Who needs a job? There are many who are aspiring for this life.
Can we do anything to stop this rot? Yes we can. We need to provide leadership to our children and intentionally raise them in the ways of the Lord. We need to instil values of hard work to counteract the culture of instant gratification and materialism. We need to provide mentoring and parenting to young people, whether they are our biological children or not. We must remember that there are over two million child-headed homes in SA, not to mention the number of children growing up in the streets. We do not need a political solution for these challenges. Wet need solutions that emanate from God. These will come through the Church if we are open for God to use us.