This week the Tweet of the Week goes to @Julius_S_Malema for:
- We stand by Zim protestors : Julius Malema
- “Never be governed by fear” Julius Malema tells Zimbabweans
- We Going To Arrest Zuma, Turn Nkandla Into A College: Malema
- Malema urges Blacks to have more babies
- PICTURE: White executives answer Malema’s call to join EFF struggle
- Forced land redistribution : Julius Malema says Black South Africans Needs to Occupy White owned land
- Panicking Jacob Zuma Calls For Mugabe Style Accelerated Economic Redistribution after Malema threat
Profile: Julius Malema is the “commander-in-chief” of the EFF. He previously served as leader of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) before being expelled, at which point he formed the EFF. He has 1.13m followers on Twitter, the most of any politician in South Africa.
Citation: The ease with which Julius Malema changes colours really is something to behold. There are political chameleons and there are political chameleons but he has all the colours of the rainbow and, at one time or another, they have all been on display.
This week is was Zimbabwe’s turn. “We are on the side of the people of Zimbabwe,” he tweeted to his fanatical fan base. And they responded in turn. His sentiment was retweeted about 1,400 times and liked around a thousand.
Zimbabwe is in something of a crisis. That, however, is a fairly meaningless statement because, in truth, is has been in crisis for well over a decade. The country is like a storming sea. Tidal wave after wave beats away at its democratic and economic integrity and have been doing so for an age. Sometimes one is big enough to grab international attention but for the most part, it is just the way of things. Commanding the water is the country’s own God, President Robert Mugabe, and he has pretty much destroyed everything in sight; if not comprehensively then to the verge of collapse.
Its economic degradation has eventually brought about something of an uprising. Strikes and protests are now widespread and, in pastor Evan Mawarire, “the people” have someone to rally round. Mugabe has been forced to plead for international relief, while simultaneously warning against foreign attempts to overthrow the government. Domestically, formal unemployment runs at 90%; Zimbabwean reserves are empty; corruption is a pandemic; and, in Mugabe’s never-ending hold on power, its democracy is a farce. Truth he told, its not foreign governments he should be worried about.
But today, in July 2016, Malema is on the side of the people. What a relief that must be to them. A novel sentiment too.
Here’s another quote from Malema on Zimbabwe, from exactly a year ago, July 2015: “President Mugabe is the only leader who knows for the real change to come, Africans will have to go through the necessary pain, exactly what Zimbabweans are going through now.”
It’s difficult to understand why that sentiment on longer holds true for Malema. There is much pain to be sure. Oh no, wait, it isn’t. It’s because Malema’s principled framework does not have human rights or best democratic practice at its heart, only power. And he can smell something is in the air. Best he positions himself on the right side of it. That is the way of the demagogue. Here is a delightful video clip of Malema praising Mugabe as a “the only leader who can stand up to the West”. So much for being governed by fear.
The fact is Mugabe is something of a hero to Malema, and his infatuation with the man goes way back.
“We must learn from Mugabe,” said Malema in 2013. Here he is again, praising Mugabe’s land reform programme.
There was nothing wrong with Mugabe’s policy; indeed he argued it was only international sanctions that were holding the country back. “The results,” he said, “are wonderful.” Guess who recently evoked that particular defence, in the face of his contemporary crisis? Yip, Mugabe himself.
Not enough? Well, one can go back further still.
In 2010, as leader of the ANCYL, Malema headed an eight-member delegation to Zimbabwe to visit, among others, Mugabe. Floyd Shivambu, the EFF deputy president, was among those accompanying him. Many will remember the visit not for so much for his flirtation with Mugabe but for his post-visit press briefing, where he excoriated a BBC journalist and banished him from the ANC’s “revolutionary house” calling him a “bloody agent”. These days Malema is on the side of the press too. How grateful he is to the media for having uncovered and driven the Nkandla scandal from the get go.
Oh, and on the side of the Constitution too. “How can you violate the Constitution and still think you will entrusted with the responsibility of defending that constitution? This book here (holding up the South African Constitution) I doubt he has read this book.”
Good point that. Of course Mugabe’s contempt for the constitution makes Zuma look like a paragon of virtue. But that’s another matter.
His four-day visit to Zimbabwe in 2010 culminated in a two-hour discussion with Mugabe. He would wear a shirt with Mugabe’s face emblazoned upon it. Just like he has worn, in his time, T-shirts with Zuma’s face front and centre. It could be anybody’s face, though. So long as they are in power and there exists behind them the pretence of a populist cause to which he can attach himself.
But these quotes are just anecdotes. Just a sample from the vast library of pro-Mugabe rhetoric Malema has churned out over the years. He has defended the man and his policies to the hilt and at great length. But now, now he is on the side of the people. Now he preaches against government by fear.
EFF voters are a curious bunch. Why it is they cannot see Zuma in Malema is a mystery. He has Zuma’s “say anything to anyone” demagoguery written large across his forehead. How often it is we are the things we detest most. Malema feigns hatred for Zuma but the reality is, he has modeled himself on the man. He is just angrier. He has no consistency other than inconsistency itself. He will show you whatever face it is you wish to see; always with a smile, menacing in its apparent conviction.
Zuma was once a hero he would die for. Mugabe was likewise an idol of sorts. Both are now on the Malema scrapheap. It’s probably a matter of time before he discards Hugo Chavez too, his Venezuelan darling, also visited and fawned upon, whose policies have left that country in ruins. They are all ideological stepping-stones, upon whose heads he now steps.
“The people.” What a phrase. Is there any other sentiment equally abused in South Africa? Pseudo-revolutionary movements, even those with 6.6% of the vote, must maintain the pretence they speak on behalf of “the people”. If they had to be accurate, they wouldn’t be much of a revolutionary movement, more of a part-time grievance desk for the alienated. But Malema isn’t just on the side of the South African people; he speaks for the Zimbabwean population too. Soon enough he will be leading an international liberation movement, at least in his own mind.
As for Mugabe, pressed on his duplicity, no doubt Malema will be able to squirm out of this particular paradox with the effortless charm he always does. He was always on the side of the people, he will say, only now the people are rising up. So must he. Whatever. Rise up, sit down, dance whatever dance you must. It’s all a show.
There is one lesson and one lesson only from all this: Malema himself should never get his hands on formal power. Because if, in your mind’s eye, you and the people are one, well, once you have power, why do you need the people at all? And that is the great irony about Malema. Despite everything he has learnt and inculcated from the likes of Zuma, Mugabe and Chavez, the one thing that escapes him is that they produced him, in one form or another. Julius Malema is the very thing he stands against; a living, breathing contradiction. And when your own duplicity is the fuel upon which you burn, that is a fire as bright as it dangerous.-BDLive