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Another Friday
Mar 2 2012 9:23AM
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Henry Jeffreys

Malema has made many speeches but one struggles to recall any that inspired
AND still the long departure of Julius Malema from the official ANC scene continues. This week we saw another declaration that he has been given the boot, accompanied by one stating the almost former leader of the ANC Youth League can yet again appeal.

The ANC can hardly be accused of erring on the side of unfairness in this tragicomedy that seems to have developed a life of its own. Surely there’s a drama or musical lurking in there somewhere?

Malema and his comrades-in-arms, who once were all but untouchable, will now probably take their plight to the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) in a further attempt for a sympathetic ear – desperately hoping the inevitable can be staved off.

In the early stages of this saga the NEC was his “if all else fails” hope. Today, with his erstwhile hero and now deadly nemesis, Jacob Zuma, firmly in resurge mode, that hope seems all but dashed. Zuma seems to be back in more or less full control of the ANC and it will be a courageous, or foolhardy, NEC member who openly takes him on.

I know, stranger things have happened. We are, after all, dealing with the ANC here. However, I’m putting my money on Zuma trumping this one and already moving on, accepting that the remnants of the saga might follow him all the way to Mangaung, but discounting it as a real threat.

Once the dust has settled Zuma and the ANC have a lot to ponder on. The Malema saga has exposed the ugly underbelly of a once-proud party. There is little doubt that Malema was a creature of the dark alley politics the ANC has become known for ever since Thabo Mbeki ousted Zuma.

Zuma, who probably did what he needed to do in order to survive and make a comeback, should take a lot of the blame. His ambition clouded his judgment as he allowed the Malemas to rampage through the party in his name, overturning long-standing practices and values that earned the movement the unstinted admiration and appreciation of millions of supporters.

Politics is not for sissies and all political parties and movements experience fierce internal competition for positions. But there is a difference between tough and ugly, not to mention avaricious, politics. The latter, especially, has become an almost accepted driving force for access to positions and power. It certainly seems to have been part and parcel of what drove Malema’s miraculous rise to power and wealth. And, in this, even the ANC these days acknowledge, he is not alone.

Malema is a wake-up call Zuma and the NEC should heed. There is more than enough evidence – thanks largely to the sterling work of Derek Hanekom, Cyril Ramaphosa and their respective disciplinary committees – that the belligerent youth leader is unrepentant and unfit for membership of the party.

The NEC should speedily confirm the judgments of the disciplinary and appeals committees in order to send a strong message to the rest of the party’s body politic.

Then it should pay serious attention to the youth wing and the seemingly entrenched view that it is autonomous of the mother body and can do as it pleases. The actions against Malema and his comrades will, of course, go a long way to focus the minds of their successors, but it is not sufficient.

There seems to be a need for a thorough assessment of the roles of the ANC’s various adjunct bodies, but especially that of the youth wing, which is supposed to provide future leaders. The youth league used to boast leaders of a high calibre indeed – young leaders whose talents and conduct were clear indicators of future leadership of the movement and the country.

When Nelson Mandela stood up in court and made his now famous speech it was the result of coming through the ranks of a thinking youth league in which intellectual capacity and prowess, as distinct from mere academic qualifications, were hallmarks and not frowned upon.

In his time Malema has made many speeches, but one struggles to remember any that inspired the nation. We all remember the slogans that paraded as speeches and inspired rather a sense of fear on the part of some and of entitlement on the part of others. Inflammatory rabble-rousing does not a sound public policy make.

It is incumbent on Zuma and the NEC to pay more attention to how the party develops its future leaders and for there to be a clear framework and plan on how this is done. In this regard, horror upon horror, they can take a leaf out of the DA’s book.

Under the beady eye of Helen Zille – she takes it that seriously – the DA produces young politicians like Lindiwe Mazibuko, who today stares down Zuma from the opposition front benches in Parliament with an admirable astuteness and sensibility.

One of the resolutions taken by the ANC in 2007 at Polokwane was to start or reinvigorate a political school. Mathews Phosa was tasked with this. It is time for a progress report. If the school exists, what does it do and what is it producing? Hopefully not more Julius Malemas!

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