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Madcap Malema goes to Zimbabwe

By Ralph Geeplay   

Julius Malema, the madcap South African politician who is always in the news was in Zimbabwe this week, preaching the pro poor rhetoric and racial politics that saw him ostracized from the ruling African National Congress this year. Malema was in Harare to attend the wedding of the Zanu-pf Youth League president.

In Malema’s delegation was the ANC Secretary General Sindiso Magaqa, who was also suspended recently. Malema has been mad with the ANC for quite a while since his expulsion, with the current nationwide strikes in the country providing an opportunity as unhappy South Africans see their living standards decline since the ANC came to power. Reports say, he is exploiting the situation to his advantage.

Malema was expelled from the African National Congress this year after a long spell of bad mouthing President Jacob Zuma and the ANC. By ousting the former African National Congress Youth League President, the ANC took a tough action that took months given Malema’s so-called proletariat statues within the party. Julius Malema wants South African mines nationalized; he also wants land taken away forcibly from white South Africans; he accused whites of murdering blacks when they acquired the assets.

Malema somewhat, has been described as the kingmaker within the party, given that he helped bring president Zuma to power in a political battled that saw former President Tambo Mbeki exiting the stage. By also getting rid of Malema, President Zuma is said to have engineered the exit of his chief political rival, as the party meets soon to elect the eventual candidate which it hope to put forward for the next election, but analyst say, Malema was not willing to go quietly.

He has found discontent within the country’s labor force, which began when platinum behemoth Lonmin’s Marikana saw strikes with workers calling for pay increase. It was a scene that also witnessed violence in August; post apartheid, it is the worst government crackdown on demonstrators. In all 46 were killed, strikers and the police. The incident is now being investigated by a government-appointed commission of inquiry.

Concerned that Malema was using the strikers’ discontent to ferment trouble in a South Africa where economic activity was already slowing, and where the protests are costing the ANC-led government hundreds of millions, he was arrested while on a speaking engagement with the strikers.

He was subsequently charged with tax evasion and money laundering. The charges, says the former ANCYL president and his business partners, put forward an intricate sham of businesses to gain an infrastructure contract in Limpopo, worth about $6.3million. Malema has denied the charges.

But a political science professor at the University of Liberia says it is “unlikely if Malema would have been charged with corruption charges if he was still heading the ANCYL.

Because, the political black elite in South Africa having groomed power, some say are leaving the people behind especially when it comes to service delivery, and that few black elites under the so-called Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) ‘affirmative action’ program initiated by President Mbeki are getting richer; Malema was one of them.” Because of these perceived reactions, the Democratic Alliance which is presenting another alternative for leadership has been growing in strength with Helen Zille as its head.

In Zimbabwe, Malema praised President Robert Mugabe and compared him to Nelson Mandela. “President Mandela [and Mugabe] ushered in political freedom . . .” the firebrand politician said, “and they are relying on the young ones to continue with the struggle, therefore, we are not going to disappoint them,” he added.

Reports say there are about 40 political prisoners in Zimbabwean jails, and that President Mugabe and his Zanu-pf has used political violence to silent dissent.

Before going to Zimbabwe, Malema also called for the land and the mines to be taken from white South Africans compulsorily, whom he says stole the resources from the black majority, when they came from Europe; he said they met the land there. Like Mugabe, Malema is also blaming the imperialists. “Our life has been made problematic by the imperialistic forces and therefore we are always in serious conflict with them because they have created conflict,”

While Malema was praising the progress that Zimbabwe has made under President Mugabe, another African was telling a different story. Mo Ibrahim said Zimbabwe marred in political quirk mire was underperforming, when it ought to be an African powerhouse.  This year annual recently released Ibrahim index on Africa puts Zimbabwe at 47th out of 52 African countries, with a score of 34 out of 100. That made Zimbabwe the worst-performing country in South Africa where most countries are doing fairly well.

Ibrahim also said, post independent “African leaders came from freedom-fighting, liberation movements” and then added, “A good fighter is not necessarily a good governor. It takes different skills to run a country.”

Ralph Geeplay can be reached at akklamm@gmail.com

 

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