ANC’s big Juju conundrum
Cape Town - Axed ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, fomenting rebellion among miners and soldiers, will continue until he is brought back under the party’s control, say analysts.
The Friends of the Youth League is also adamant the ANC has no choice but to bring him back into the fold.
Malema has had a busy few weeks, speaking to a wide range of people, from striking miners in Marikana to soldiers in Lenasia.
He told soldiers on Wednesday their plight after being put on special leave for protesting at the Union Buildings in 2009 was similar to his, since they had been judged before any disciplinary hearing.
His call for a national strike in the mining sector has spooked investors, while he has enjoyed unprecedented exposure in international media, most recently being interviewed by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday, raising the ire of some of the party’s leadership.
University of Johannesburg Professor Kwandiwe Kondlo said the situation with Malema and the ANC was a double-edged sword.
“Perception is very important. The perception now is that even if the ANC tries to spit him out , it does not really lead to the political demise of that person,” said Kondlo.
Malema was striking the right chords with “popular forces” in disgruntled communities, and “this is the beginning of a point of coherence around Julius becoming a leader of” those forces” and ordinary people.
In 2005, the ANC’s national general council reinstated then-ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma to party activities and structures after he voluntarily stepped down the day he was charged with corruption, marking the beginning of a spectacular political comeback that culminated in his becoming president.
Although Zuma was not expelled from the party, those behind Malema are hoping for a similar outcome for the firebrand come Mangaung in December, when a new ANC leadership will be elected. The matter of Malema’s expulsion could be raised from the floor and be overturned with majority support.
“The goal of Malema now is beyond the ANC. They have no option but to bring him back in Mangaung,” said Kondlo.
Kondlo wouldn’t say the same about Zuma.
“Zuma is the past, but he is the kind of past that is refusing to pass. The future of SA politics doesn’t reside with Zuma, it resides with the likes of Fikile Mbalula and those younger than him. Unless the ANC is so shortsighted to give Zuma another term.”
Malema has proven adept at exploiting the gap that has opened up between the ANC and affiliates of its ally, Cosatu – such as the National Union of Mineworkers – and workers and communities who feel excluded.
But Malema’s spokesman, Floyd Shivambu, said the strategy was not about “narrow personal achievements” but meeting people on the ground who had “called upon him”.
On Malema’s reinstatement in the ANC, Shivambu said: “It’s a fact. It’s going to happen when ANC is brought to proper thinking.”
However, political analyst Keith Gottschalk of the University of the Western Cape said Malema’s populist and militant rhetoric might be a little old.
“It’s already frightened whites and coloureds to vote for the DA. For the DA this is like the ANC’s gift to the DA.”
Disgruntled communities would continue to call on him because his presence would get their plight on to newspaper front pages, and this “mutual exploitation” would go on for the rest of the year.
Gottschalk doubted Malema’s behaviour would change should the party reinstate him.
The ANC in the Eastern Cape said on Wednesday Malema’s behaviour and that of his allies in recent violent strikes was “tantamount to mutiny”. Provincial spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane said it was a serious threat to peace, security, and stability.
SA Security Forces Union (Sasfu) president Bhekinkosi Mvovo said it was opposed to any “opportunism” by Malema and “the so-called Friends of the Youth League in exploiting the vulnerability of the soldiers”.
DA defence spokesman David Maynier said Malema was exploiting soldiers for political gain, but it should not be forgotten that the SANDF service commission had described as slum-like the conditions at the Doornkop/ Lenz military base, where the soldiers Malema would meet were stationed.
Malema’s visit to the soldiers threatened to undermine the constitutional imperative that the military remain politically neutral.
As such, Maynier said any soldier who attended Malema's address should be disciplined.
He said Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was right to disapprove of Malema’s intention to address the soldiers.
Earlier, Mapisa-Nqakula said on SABC radio that Malema seemed bent on turning soldiers against the state.
“You can’t just go on and on… and be going around mobilising funeral gatherings and agitating people to become ungovernable… It cannot be that we allow an ordinary citizen to stand up and want to instigate and want to agitate members of the SANDF, which is what has happened in Marikana, which is what has happened in the mining industry among those workers.”
* Presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj declined to comment on Malema’s assertion that SA is a “banana republic”.
“We won’t legitimise stories… by getting me or the Presidency to comment. You don’t expect him to comment on this,” he said yesterday.
“You must pay the price and take responsibility for writing stories saying that South Africa is a banana republic because you might believe it.”
* Economist Chris Hart said the impact of turmoil in the mining sector was serious.
“It’s not a small story anymore. It’s not our own internal issues. It’s becoming very serious and it’s probably one of the reasons the rand has been hit hard and as far as Angloplats is concerned,” said Hart.
Anglo American Platinum announced on Wednesday it had suspended operations in the Rustenburg area to protect its staff.
Hart said investors would most likely withdraw capital from the mining industry or cancel projects. “The international community is probably wondering why it took so long, South Africa is now falling apart,” he said.
Companies were probably asking: “How are we going to plan our business models from here?”
In Malema’s words…
“We have now taken over the leadership of that struggle to make sure the mineral resources of this country benefit the people of this country. Particularly the workers who are working very hard in very risky conditions underground, trying to take out these precious minerals.”
“We continue to play that role to ensure that the working class in South Africa does not become leaderless because those who are charged with such a responsibility have taken leave from discharging such responsibility.” - Malema to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour
“There must be a national strike at all the mines until Frans Baleni and the NUM leadership step down with immediate effect - to workers at Gold Fields KDC West gold mine in Carletonville this week. “The problem is not NUM. The problem is the leadership who take money from mlungu (whites).
“Comrades, you don't have leaders. You are leaderless. You are not alone. We are encouraged by what you are doing,” he said. - Malema to workers at Gold Fields West Goldmine, Carletonville
“We are going to lead a mining revolution in this country... We will run these mines ungovernable until the boers come to the table”. - to workers at the Aurora mine in Grootvlei in August. - Malema to workers at Aurora goldmine in Grootvlei, Springs
“Under democracy our people will be protected. But government has turned against its people,” Malema told a memorial service for the dead miners in Marikana, North West. - Malema during a memorial service for Marikana miners