Why Malema’s return to the ruling party is a pipedream

I don’t remember an instance where expelled ANCYL President Julius Malema called ANC or opposition party leaders names in public and was reprimanded in the same public space he used to diss them. If there ever is such an instance, it must have been in private. The somewhat inconsistent disciplinary action taken against him came a little too late after he had dissed and insulted a lot of people.

Malema’s insulting has now become worse since his expulsion from the ANC. Since that time he had not kept a low profile nor had he abided by and accepted the rules of the African National Congress. Instead, he has gone on a defensive, firing insults directed at South African and ANC President Jacob Zuma. Kicked out in the cold and wilderness by the ruling party’s appeals committee late last year (2011), Malema has been dissing and insulting party leaders, including ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, among others.

Following his axing the youth man hopes to have his expulsion overturned during the ANC December conference later this year in Mangaung, Bloemfontein. It is widely reported that he expects deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe to replace Zuma and Fikile Mabalula to take over from SG Gwede Mantashe – who (in his dream) believes would influence other members to overturn and cancel his expulsion and thereby return to the ruling party. Chances of this happening are very unlikely and this is mainly because of Malema’s misbehaviour since his expulsion.

While Malema’s misbehaviour cannot be condoned, I, however, blame Zuma because he had allowed him to use his unruly behaviour and militancy tendencies when they suited him (Zuma) in months leading up to the Polokwane Conference in 2007. At the time Malema was campaigning for Zuma to become the ruling party’s president and later the country’s – knocking out recalled and somewhat aloof former president Thabo Mbeki.

Allow me to take you back a little.

A few years later Malema called Democratic Alliance leader and Western Cape premier Helen Zille a “cockroach” in the presence of president Zuma because he said he did not have respect for her. Following Malema’s remarks at the opposition leader, Zuma took the stage and had never called the expelled youth leader to order. Malema was never asked to apologise to Zille. To Zuma and his own-little-created-monster, things continued as normal. But not now, anymore. Or so it seems.

I noted at the time that the president’s failure to call Malema to apologise for his cockroach remarks was his (Zuma’s) approval of the former youth leader insulting elders – either in the ruling ANC or outside. “Therefore it should not have come as a surprise to me that Zuma never said a word to Malema about his comments because maybe that is exactly what he is being taught at the party’s Political School, if he really is going there and that he has not defied the party’s executive decision that he should attend the school where he is (regrettably) groomed to insult elders and everyone else who differs with his views/opinions and every member of the opposition,” I wrote in August last year. It therefore seems unlikely that the president can ever respond to Malema’s insults because he knows very well that the expelled youth leader is like the monster he (Zuma) himself created a few years back when he was campaigning for the ruling party presidency, which later saw him become the country’s president.

Following his expulsion from the ruling party – which he claims was orchestrated by Zuma and Mantashe – Malema has not stopped criticising those who he claims saw him as a threat to their leadership. This is because his expulsion came just a little over a year before the party heads to Mangaung, where it will elect its new or same-old leadership for the coming five years. It is clear that Zuma could not and has failed to contain and stop Malema from becoming what he now has become: a little bitter, mannerless young man who “learned from best” – his party elders. Previously accusing Zuma as a dictator, he has now, again, accused him as an immoral leader who was so flawed that he would not bury former president Nelson Mandela should he die while Zuma’s still President of the ruling party – before or after his re-election at Mangaung (emphasis).

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph newspaper (UK), Malema said Zuma was “insecure”, accusing him of getting rid of him because he (Zuma) did not want him to highlight the “institutionalised mediocrity” of his administration. Describing himself in an interview on 7 July with the newspaper’s Aislinn Laing, Malema claimed he is a “good person”. He said he had “no bad intentions to harm anybody in this country” and that he was “was very shocked [of his expulsion from the ANC] because I know the ANC to be a very patient organisation, especially with the youth”.

Admitting that “you must understand that every leader will have his or her weaknesses”, Juju told Laing that during the 2007 December conference party delegates did not allow Zuma’s “weaknesses” as an excuse not to be elected president because he was “presented to us as a man of the people who would not continue with neo-liberal economic policies”. “But we realised very quickly we had made a mistake. He became worse and worse and abused state power used his influence for personal benefits,” said the expelled youth leader.

He now regrets this: campaigning for and electing Zuma as president and defending him during his corruption and rape charges. “We cannot fold our arms while the ANC of President Mandela and Oliver Tambo (another former ANC president) is being destroyed like this… they cannot do it because of age, we must do it for them.” Speaking of his intention to the return to the ruling party, Malema said: “I will go back to the ANC whenever the right people are there. President Zuma is 70 now, I am 31. I have got all the time on my side.”

In an exclusive interview on 26 June with the Zimbabwe Sunday Mail this year, Malema said he would not form any political party, or take the ruling party to court over his expulsion, but that he will continue to be a political activist. Sounding certain and positive about his return to the ruling party, he said: “These gates will open one day. They can’t be closed forever. Even if it’s after five years, I will continue to be a member of the ANC. Even if it’s after Zuma’s term, I will continue to be a member of the ANC.”

However long it takes, but it will happen, he said. “It will happen in future. I am 31 years old and I have differences with people in their 70s so even if it happens after 20 years, I will go and tell them in their graves that what you wished not to happen is happening now,” he told the Zimbabwe Sunday Mail at the time.

He told BBC on 30 July that: “When we remove President [Jacob] Zuma in December, it will be an automatic overturning of that decision”. SABC reported at the time that he and suspended league spokesperson Floyd Shivambu had travelled to London to talk to investors to come and invest in the country – the same imperialists he has previously criticised.

Malema admitted that his Christmas present this year would be the election of a new president for the ruling party during its December conference in Mangaung, where Zuma dropped and Motlanthe elected because the latter “has good credentials in the movement and is a man who will bring integrity and restore the dignity of that office of president and still deliver on the hopes of our people and implement the aspirations of the freedom charter.”

He said there is “no longer a relationship between me and President Zuma – we are actually looking for a new president”. In an interview with now Sunday Times editor, Ray Hartley, on 23 November 2009, Malema said he had “no regret about that [kill for Zuma’ comments]”. But that has all changed now. Hasn’t it?

On July 27 Malema called Zuma as a “questionable leader”, according to The Times, when he delivered the Nelson Mandela lecture at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. He also accused him as a polygamist who undermined the rights of women (emphasis). “This thing of marrying so many women should be questioned in a society where we seek to create a gender-equal society. If a man can marry four [wives], it means that even a woman should be allowed to do the same.”

As noted in August last year, I still blame Zuma and the ANC leadership for Malema’s behaviour (because they never called him to order when it was warranted) and that the ANC Political School as had been recommended that he should attend did not yield any publicly expected results: a changed behaviour of a changed man. Like columnist Khaya Dlanga noted on Aug 9, Malema’s expulsion was indeed harsh and unnecessary.

Indeed one had expected him to show remorse/regret about what he had been changed and dismissed for but he did not. That Zuma saw a leader him even after he was expelled was shocking. Although he seems quite certain about his return to the ruling party, it’s not clear whether Malema will “redeem” and “show [that] he can and should be trusted in the future” and whether he will do that “pretty damn soon” as suggested by Dlanga. But as things stand it will take years, if not a lifetime, before Malema returns to the ANC.

And until we see such a changed man and a leader in him – one who accepts decisions, abides by the rules and policies of his organisation; one who knows where to draw the line and that not everyone agrees with every shit he says; that not all people see a “leader in him” that Zuma saw; that militancy is not everything; that listening to good advice does help sometimes; that indeed you need no degree let alone a matric certificate to know what is wrong from what is right – Malema’s return to the ruling party is a pipedream.

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