Some saw the rise of young Nelson Mandela and the victory of old Nelson become the president of the first democratically elected government of South Africa in 1994 – at the age of 75.
Not all who saw the young Nelson rise witnessed his presidency of course; 75 is a lot of years to be around living.
It so happens our generation is witnessing the rise of another politician, Julius Malema.
The young Julius Malema from Limpopo, carrying a gun at age 13 to go burry the late struggle hero and communist leader Chris Hani in 1993; to leading a Jozi shut down march as president of Cosas in 2002; to heading the ANC Youth League as president – breaking recruitment milestones, expulsion from the ANC and setting up a party that within twelve months of start-up becomes the 3rd largest in parliament – out of many parties that have been in existence for years.
As an entrepreneur, I would like to think Alon Musk is great, but I can’t play down play Julius’ ascendance in his field of industry.
Not to say Julius is a Nelson Mandela, but in our age and South African politics, whether you are fond of him or not, he is a stat that stands out.
If I were a politician in any party – Julius Malema is the guy to envy even if I didn’t agree with his ideas or wish to be him. Well maybe not for you because your envy temperament is even, so tranquil it puts the Dalai Lama’s to shame. If you aren’t envious, just know I can bite both my wrists at the same time, hahaha.
I am not with any political party, being South African and loyal to it only is enough to me. Politicians are often loyal first to their political parties and often later to their countries.
When a politician does wrong – corruption, often their party’s first call is to protect organisation’s image, not necessarily the country. Such imagery is needed to win votes from the citizens. It is bizarre how our psychology as society works.
Whatever you think of Julius Malema – he is doing his thing at a high level. The following isn’t glorification, but simply observations of his ascendance.
1. Change of mind!!
“A wise man changes his mind”, said the wise man adjusting his earlier views.
Malema was a Jacob Zuma backer. Today he is detractor. The temperament hasn’t changed, if not gone up.
2. Captivating oratory.
When Julius speaks, he doesn’t let you sleep. He gets serious, technical, silly, insulting and then back again to serious.
Good speakers do this (maybe without the insults). They own your attention’s flow to their advantage.
The greatest of masters of ceremonies and attention, comedians, concede to that he is a good comedian.
3. Well play of the PR game.
Malema’s orations, most times if not all the time, end up high up in the headlines.
The overt silliness and insults make good headline copy. He is his own copywriter.
Below are just few of the things Julius has said, which have made headlines and or were used as punch lines in media reports:
- Malema vows that once they appeal the court interdict they will surprise the Guptas with a visit.
- EFF will help Zuma deliver his speech!
- “SARS will soon auction my twitter because they want to take away everything I have”
- “King Dalindyebo is a friend of the EFF, but we respect the law and need for justice”
- “Jacob Zuma built a 2 million rand swimming pool, but no one in the family knows how to swim”
- “That which you have covered in [your] clothes is rubbish, ok! You are a small boy you can’t do anything. Go out…bastard! Go out! You bloody agent!”
- “We are used like toilet paper that is flushed in the toilet. We are used like condoms — those who use condoms will know how condoms work, they use them and they throw them [away] somewhere else”
- “She is a cockroach… She dances like a monkey”
- “Comrades, people have said it’s cold outside the ANC, they are correct, they were correct, it’s very cold outside the ANC…but we are making it warm”
- “You must never buy an E-Tag, when they stop you and ask you about your E-Tag, simply show them your red beret”
4. Ability to apologise and criticise self.
In 2014, he apologised to former President Thabo Mbeki’s mother for how they “ill treated her child (Thabo)” leading to the president stepping down in 2008.
Earlier this year in parliament, he apologised to Mbeki for backing Zuma.
In 2011, while in Thebelihle, in strengthening his point, he referred to Indians in the C word. It is a derogatory slur and of course there was outrage. He says he did not know it is; growing up I also did not know until a few years prior Malema’s incident.
South African Minority Rights Equality Movement (Samrem) opened a case of crimen injuria against him.
He then requested a meeting with them where he apologised. Samrem welcomed it.
Obscenity obviously attracts attention. So is apologising, even if lesser.
Nonetheless, if you think you were wrong, it is decent to apologise.
5. You don’t have to play an opponent’s preferred game to win a challenge.
Lindiwe Mazibuko at some point challenged Julius to a debate. Julius’s reply was, “She’s a nobody, she’s a tea girl of the madam”.
“I was never asked to debate Lindiwe. I am not going to use our profile to profile her. She is a tea girl for the madam – she must stay there in the kitchen”
Whether he was afraid of her or not, some might argue, to me it makes no difference. The reply was hitting – even more so comically.
To win a challenge, you don’t have to play the exact game the challenger suggests.
Again we can say: if you wrestle a pig, you are a pig; if you challenge a lion to a wrestle, even if you are not the king of the jungle, you are playing the big game – even when you are a porky.
6. Driven by ambitions, not lacks.
We laughed when we heard he failed woodwork in Matric. He got a G in standard grade.
The jokes were funny.
People fail in school and let that define what happens with their life. They let tests that others put up for them determine whether they should go forward in life or not.
He pursued what he wanted in life – politics.
I am not certain if the woodwork jokes are still funny now that he obtained university degrees.
7. Consistency and perseverance.
We can say that his tune hasn’t changed from when he was the leader of ANCYL. Some even say he was expelled from the ANC for ferociously pushing the agenda of nationalisation of mines. This is the song he is still singing today and stronger.
Consistency is attractive to the world and perseverance builds the individual’s stamina.
8. Find wounds of society
ABSA, a South African bank, whose controlling stake is owned by UK’s Barclays Bank, apparently ‘imported’ 500 consultants, overlooking South African talent.
EFF threatened to stage sit-ins at ABSA branches, as part of their plan to force capitalism to transform urgently. The strategy is, to eat an elephant (banks), bite it in bits. ABSA happens to be the elephant they promised to start with.
A group of ABSA stuff in management apparently met with the ANC and later the EFF, seeking help in addressing the ‘overlooking’ matter.
Apparently 2800 employees signed a petition to join Malema’s protest.
EFF wins this call over ANC. It is better suited to be radical. Cry beloved ANCYL.
After the above, as of March 2016, Barclays announced its process of disinvestment from ABSA. I am not saying this is due to the aforementioned.
9. When tables turn, enemies can be friends.
Andile Mngxitama and Malema were sometimes at loggerheads.
After Malema got fired from the ANC, Andile was one the people he met up with in talks of new political party, which now is the EFF and which they are the founding members to. Well, Andile later left the EFF.
10. Ear on the ground
I am from Limpopo. I hang around ‘comrades’. The banter veers into politics. We are a politically inclined nation.
I often hear people say Malema still has spies in the ANC. This is just gossip but doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
The interesting point I heard is Malema is a ‘gents’ guy. He would often call comrades just to check up on them.
11. Sense of urgency (48 Laws of Power).
He wants nationalisation now – today, not tomorrow. He wants land for people now, not tomorrow.
His EFF isn’t the governing party so there is nothing they can do government policy wise.
We have seen land grabs in some communities apparently led by them. The government in some of those communities later came to officially give ‘the people’ the land.
People want their lives to improve today; hence they go with someone who wants change NOW.
The ANC isn’t saying anything urgent about nationalisation of natural resources or at least an exponential beneficiation programme.
12. Lead a crusade (48 Laws of Power).
Remember the ANCYL march in 2011, from Johannesburg to the Union Buildings in Pretoria? I was a big twitterer then. I saw people, some prominent, who were openly not Malema fans at the march or sympathizing with it. Some said they were even shedding ‘a tear’. I had FOMO, and I almost shed a tear.
Although we know the march wasn’t going to create jobs or even immediately, we sympathized with the bigger meaning.
A crusade is defined as “a concerted effort or vigorous movement for a cause or against an abuse”.
I went to the #FeesMustFall march, I am not a student. I sympathize greatly. I believe in the fees falling crusade – it is bigger than me.
13. Strategy over sense of occasion and comfort
Had the Nkandla issue been handled apologetically from the start, maybe the country wouldn’t view the president with distain as it does now.
The attitude and tricks used to not apply the Public Protector’s recommendations (they are binding by law) was the straw.
In the opening State of the Nation Address, the EFF hackled once more until they were booted out of the parliament.
There are those who viewed the EFF’s behaviour as ‘inappropriate’ given the occasion.
The bigger ‘inappropriate’ is shielding the paying back of the millions abused on Nkandla.
The EFF never agreed to the Adhoc committee on Nkandla from the onset. That was their strategy.
Their view in my view is, unless the matter is addressed appropriately with respect of people’s intellect and constitution, the ‘strategy’ would rule over and above any sense of occasion.
Malema’s reply at the State of the Nation debate on 17/02/2016: the points which made headlines where attacks on President Zuma’s personal life and the last words – “bye bye” and the sort of gimmickry stuff.
These were the last points of the speech. The first ¾ is a detailed analysis which speaks reality of South Africa current social and economic position.
The same can be said of EFF’s recent trip to London, were Malema and colleagues met with the business community (investors) and students to promote or lobby their ‘economic freedom’ vision.
Charisma might win popularity, but detail engages decision makers – whom are practical.
Various business people, for self vested reasons or not, foresaw that an apartheid state’s collapse was inevitable – possibly in a bad way if not contained – led the route to peace talks. No matter their race, they were not swayed by empty sentiments like ‘whites would rule South Africa until until’.
15. Play field experience (from practice) and its mobilisation.
It is not luck that the EFF got to party number 3 in parliament in less 12 months of being founded.
Even if the argument is they must have being long plotting, it also would speak to the fact that they know the political mobilising play field of South Africa and provinces.
Malema used to post ANC posters in the 1994 election (the first democratic elections in South Africa). His understanding of street logistics and mobilising must have started from there. He would have been around 13 years of age.
The Sasco 2002 Johannesburg shut down march speaks to this point.
EFF has more branches and in all the provinces than most of the parties in found in parliament. It achieved this in less than 2 years. The easy guess is they do not have funds as the ANC and the DA – how the hack did the achieve this?
The other guess is, since its some guys also from the ANC, they know how to hack growth numbers and they are young. Old politicians lose touch with the streets.