The psycho-political displacement of Julius Malema

OPINION – When the current president of the ANCYL, Julius Malema, exploded last year and declared support for Mugabe's Zanu-PF in the midst of diplomatic efforts to resolve the impasse in Zimbabwe; and when he viciously threw out a young BBC journalist out of a media briefing, the entire country was shocked with embarrassment at this kind of thuggish behaviour displayed by a person occupying the highest office of president in the ANCYL.\r\n

That behaviour also prompted comrade Jacob Zuma to condemn Julius, with the ANC subsequently subjecting him to a disciplinary process for bringing the ANC into disrepute.

When he again strongly criticized President Zuma and his government on their approach to the Libyan situation, it would seem that Julius has been able to weigh the leadership of the ANC and found it to be weak, hence his ill-disciplined and off the cuff remarks.

This behaviour by Julius can be explained by some as a behaviour of a spoilt brat lifting its tail to show all and sundry that it had the power to do or say whatever it pleases in its ‘revolutionary house’. But others will seek to explain this behaviour by looking at the historical development of the Malema phenomenon.

If one cares to glance at how Julius came to be who he is today, it is easy to see that his behaviour has its roots in what I would call the psycho-political displacement he suffered by being thrown into a serious position of ANCYL presidency whilst he was still very wet behind the ears in many respects. This expresses itself through an eccentric behaviour that reflects a crude leader whose standards are even below those of COSAS leaders.

The indisputable truth is that the ANCYL demands high standards for its leaders as compared to even those of COSAS leaders. This is not to undermine the leadership of COSAS in any way. The point is that COSAS organizes learners in schools; whilst the ANCYL organizes and mobilises youth from the whole of society around the transformation agenda as espoused by the ANC.

This role of the ANCYL therefore requires its leaders in particular, and its members in general, to have more than satisfactory level of understanding of the socio-economic and political evolution of our society. Not the gibberish rhetoric we have been fed by Julius and his ilk throughout his entire term as president of the ANCYL.

In fact COSAS, in its recent statements have come to realize that Julius Malema was ill-prepared when ascending to the presidency of the ANCYL and that they made a mistake when they supported him to this position. This powerful admission by COSAS has in fact displayed their political maturity that far exceeds that of Julius himself.

It is an admission that should be replicated by all those who used their powerful positions to support Julius during a difficult and painful moment (towards Polokwane) in the history of the liberation movement. We dare not repeat the same mistake as we are heading for the all-important 2011 and 2012 ANCYL and ANC National Congresses respectively.

This foreign behaviour by Julius can also be traced from the fact that he has never been a member of SASCO because he squandered his opportunities to higher education for easy cash. In fact, Julius had more opportunities to go to university or any other technical college than any member of the ANCYL.

It is just that he never cared to take this route of equipping himself with higher education. Had he done so he would have learned that as a member of SASCO and a student at a tertiary institution there is a modicum of respect, courtesy and rationality that is expected of a leader or any other person for that matter. Not the Nazi-style rhetoric that brings nothing of value to the youth of this country.

For his own branding, Julius has always claimed to be the product of the ANC from a young age in that he lost his childhood to the ANC. He has repeated this lie over and over again in that he himself now believes it. For those of us who were regimented by the ANC in Umgweny’ omncane (ANC Young Pioneers just below the ANCYL at the time) in the late 80’s cannot help but condemn this opportunistic talk by Julius as he presents himself as an ANC victim and therefore heir apparent to the ANC’s wealth of legacy.

How can a person who started being politically excited after 1994 lose his childhood to the ANC? That is a ridiculous psychological blackmail!

I know of many of my very young comrades during the late 80’s who, as young as 10 years of age, were regimented in Umgweny’ omncane as I was by the ANC, and who could not master the art of practically combining education and struggle. It was not that these comrades did not want to go to school– we had been taught very well that struggle and education are not mutually exclusive phenomena. but rather mutually reinforcing paradigms. But there was no psychological help available to assist these young comrades to practically bridge the gap between the struggle as taught in Umgweny’ omncane on the one hand, and education as offered in schools on the other.

This resulted in many of these comrades falling through the cracks as they could not go far with their schooling. These comrades are my real heroes and should be the ones to claim to have lost their childhood to ANC. They now form a big army of the unemployed but are still very loyal and disciplined cadres of the ANC.

This is because the ANC taught them well to understand the diagonal processes of struggle, which at times can bring misery but, armed with commitment to the cause, to decide never to betray and dishonour the cause of struggle. It is a fact and a shame that the same cannot be said of expensive whisky drinking and cigar smoking Julius and his close associates.

We cannot say the same of Julius and his close soul buddies because instead of being loyal and playing a revolutionizing and unifying role in the ANC, they stand guilty of positioning themselves as a dividing opposition force within the ANC. They have thus created a state of paralysis through their insults and threats to ANC leaders and those deployed in government by the ANC.

The ANC and YL members are unable to get any kind of protection from the ANC leadership because the leadership has been subjected to untold insults and innuendo whenever they tried raising their voice against ill-discipline by Julius and his cronies. ANC and YL members have thus been left to their own devices and some have been expelled from the Youth League because they sounded alarm on the calamity visited by Julius on the entire liberation movement.

As products of Umgweny’ omncane who were taught and trained to be fearless in the face of adversity, who faced police guns and dogs armed only with stones, we shall never surrender our organizations, the ANC and ANCYL, to those who talk poverty during the day whilst driving the most expensive cars, wearing the most expensive designer clothes and sipping the most expensive whiskies at night.

These are the most dangerous hypocrites with the agenda to use the poor masses of our country, and the ANC, in order to continue with their plans to amass as much wealth for themselves and their cronies.

The first important step is to be fearless in calling for the removal of Julius as president of the ANCYL. The second step is to actually remove him and replace him with a leadership collective led by comrade Lebogang Maile in the ANCYL Congress in June 2011. That is our immediate task as members of the ANCYL!

Mzukisi Makatse is a member of the ANCYL and ANC. He writes in his personal capacity.This article was first published in the Politicsweb.