Why the masses love Malema
JULIUS Malema is our most exciting politician. He provokes wild passion.
The snobbish black middle class is embarrassed by him; black pundits are annoyed and whites are terrified. But the black masses love him wildly.
Out of touch commentators read his fortunes, narrowly predicting his political death after small shenanigans like the recent chaotic youth league conference that was held in Limpopo.
They get tjatjarag (uppity) each time Malema is challenged and then rush to write his political obituary. But the phoenix always rises.
Malema’s political significance lies outside the ANC Youth League and the governing party can never fire him because if it did it would have a problem bigger than Cope.
In addition, he is the direct outcome of ANC rule in which the black majority has not tasted the fruit of democracy and is becoming increasingly restless. I often wonder whether the government is facing insurrection, given the ongoing community protests and strikes.
The scourge of racism from the farm fields to the boardrooms is galvanising anti-ANC sentiment within the black community.
The people are beginning to ask: What has the ANC actually done for black people?
We are seeing the beginning of the end of ANC hegemony.
While this may not show itself in the next election, the nature of the contest will change because it will be played outside the rules of liberal democratic engagement.
When democracy, the constitution and elections don’t serve the majority then extra-constitutional mechanisms become attractive – as the ongoing violent protests in Khutsong and Balfour show.
Malema understands more than many the growing anger of the black masses. He has moved into the vacuum that exists for a radical and pro-black political movement. He has fashioned himself as a warrior of the excluded and denigrated. His style is one of “ngibatshelile la belungu” (I told those arrogant whites where to get off).
His visit to Zimbabwe is part of his self-styling as a radical who cares for the plight of blacks. Despite the Zimbabwean economic crisis, Mugabe remains a darling in South Africa. And on his visit Malema spoke about South Africa as if it were run by colonialists.
His planned visits to Cuba and Venezuela are also part of the projection of himself as a radical.
But Malema is fooling the hungry and black masses. He has no plan or desire to change anything to serve them. The rhetoric of nationalisation is a clever move to enrich himself and his friends; they now want their share of mining wealth.
If he is so concerned with sharing mining wealth why is he quiet when mining communities are forcefully removed from the platinum fields in North West?
Why no word when parastatals like Eskom profit the few and rob the poor?
His sterile politics of insulting whites while changing nothing requires a stunt a week but reveals that he has no programme to engage the poor for whom he pretends to stand.
By singing about whites who must be shot all he does is gift the ANC with an escape clause from accounting for its failures to the poor.
He may save the ANC from the anger of the masses but he won’t save the poor from their hunger.
My question is: Will he succeed in fooling people with his rhetoric or will they take him seriously and go further than he calculated?