This month the ANC took disciplinary action against Julius Malema and his cronies by suspending him for five years from the ANC and he has to resign as ANC Youth league President. Who would’ve thought they had it in them?
As with Zuma’s other similarly decisive actions the preceding weeks, this is obviously another strategic move to get rid of obstacles standing in the way of his second presidential term, but like most South Africans, I still breathed a sigh of relief. Malema has been allowed to disrupt and destabilise South African politics and our economy for far too long.
His suspension from the ANC is a false relief. We need to reflect on the underlying reason for Malema’s quick rise to power – South Africa’s young unemployed and impoverished population are angry at the government’s inability to adequately deliver what they have promised for so long, and Malema became the mouthpiece for their frustrations, providing immediate (albeit reckless) solutions where the government has failed.
We should also not forget about his extravagant lifestyle (what politician earns so much that he can pay R900,000 cash for the purchase of a farm?) and his dodgy family trust that covers up and protects a horde of dodgy dealings, and more importantly, the people behind them. The Ratanang Trust, set up by Malema with his five-year-old son as the beneficiary, is at the center of numerous allegations and investigations including the suspicious “tenderpreneur” payments from certain Limpopo businessmen. The Hawks have already brought forward charges on these allegations; let’s hope they can unravel this.
The bottom line is that unless the government moves quickly to resolve the issues facing South Africa’s youth another “Malema” will quickly rise and continue the destructive path of the Malema-led ANCYL. Our government needs to act now and do the right thing! So the questions are: should it take mines and land or should it create jobs; should it continue with the failed and damaging policy of affirmative action or should it focus on growing the economy for all; should it spend money on arms deals and presidential planes, or should it spend money on education. You decide.
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This column first appeared in The South African, a UK newspaper, on the 4 November 2011.