Julius Malema is the Coming Man


Take a deep breath, put your shoulders back and look  through the frenzy.

Reading the Democratic Alliance’s Diane Kohler Barnard pour scorn on the “rotund” and “Idi Amin-like” Julius Malema I couldn’t help but think that she is leaving herself as few choices as J.M. Coetzee leaves his fictional characters.julius-malema

Julius Malema is a powerful contender for future ANC leadership – and is already a powerful politician. I think his rise to lead the ANC and possibly the country may be unstoppable. I fear that Barnard’s feisty and admirable rhetoric leaves her, and those she represents, no paths upon which she might ride her high horse back, when this is all over.

Barnard, recounting how Malema allegedly attempted to bully his way through a traffic violation with : “Don’t you know who I am?” arrogance, says:

[Julius Malema is] the man who believes there is one law for South African citizens, yet another law for him. He is the man who will slap a neighbour who has the temerity to ask that the music at his housewarming be turned down at 3 in the morning. He is the man who Julius Malemahas turned hate-speech into an art form […]

Barnard’s anger is palpable as she sneeringly reminds us that Malema has said he would fire Thabo Mbeki and any ANC parliamentarian “should he get the urge”

Malema’s ego and contempt for the law the rest of us must respect, is unparalleled […] Is this, to quote the President, someone you honestly believe is a ‘leader in the making – worthy of inheriting the ANC”?

Well, is he “a leader in the making”? Is he “worthy of inheriting the ANC?”

The answer to the first question is: “yes” – more about that below.

The answer to the second question is irrelevant. Could we agree what this historical artefact: “the ANC”  is; could we agree on what its characteristics and values are? Could anyone make this judgement call?

Frankly,  history can give a fig whether you or I think Julius Malema is worthy of inheriting the ANC – or, quite frankly, whether the ANC is worthy of  inheriting Julius Malema.

This is not about what you or I think or believe or hope for; it is also not about what Diane Kohler Barnard and the Democratic Alliance and those they represent hope for and hope to accomplish.

This is not, unfortunately,  about how things aught to be, or about what is fair and just in the moral universe.

This is about how things are; this is history as a raging torrent.

A de facto leader

Assuming “leader” is neither complimentary nor derogatory  – the word can be either or neither – it is clear that Malema more than fits the common sense meaning of the term.

  • Malema has been hot-housed as a boy in ANC training institutions and groomed for leadership after  joining the organisation at the point of its unbanning in about 1990;
  • He has led the two key feeder organisations, the Congress of South African Students and the ANC Youth League;
  • He has become the crucial port of call for politicians and individuals hoping to build support for any initiative that requires ANC support;
  • He personally played an important role in the rise to dominance of the faction that backed Zuma for president;
  • He is the only ANC politician – aside from Jacob Zuma – who has a significant and deliverable mass base; both numerous and militant;
  • His rhetoric (in my opinion) is closer to the views of the core constituency of the ANC than the publicly expressed views of any other South African politician;
  • His name/face recognition is almost unparalleled.

Julius Malema was born in the Northern Transvaal (Limpopo Province) and raised, like Jacob Zuma, by a single mother who worked as a domestic worker. This is the hard school of South African life and these kinds of  credentials are still highly valued in the ANC.

In the last few weeks Julius Malema has come over all statesmanlike:

  • He acknowledged Thabo Mbeki’s key leadership role – of the ANC and the country;
  • He declared the rector of the University of the Free State “one of our own” – thereby helping to defuse growing racial conflict on that campus.

This is deliberate marketing, evolving the brand [firebrand to Dollar Brand …] while the news media, opposition politics and certain dinner table discussions remain obsessed with each new Malema gaff or his latest confrontational tirade.

It is striking how similar the Julius Malema story is to the Jacob Zuma story.

The human need is to normalise the inevitable or the inescapable present. Three years ago media and dinner table sentiment about Jacob Zuma was almost identical to the sentiment held by the same groups of people about Julius Malema today.

The central dilemma in J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace.

Is accepting – and trying to get your head around – the present and future leadership role of Julius Malema the moral equivalent of  the choices made by J.M Coetzee’s Lucy, the daughter of main character David Lurie in the 1999 novel Disgrace? Lucy (who is white) is raped and ends up seeking and receiving protection (and more) from Petrus (who is black) who is closely associated with those who raped her in the first place. Even if you have not read Disgrace I think you can understand the dilemma.

Is Julius Malema the Great Defiler – of our constitution, of the bill of rights and of our hopes for non-racialism?

No more than that previous rape accused, Jacob Zuma.

It sometimes feels that Julius Malema is deliberately teasing; upping the ante to cause his opponents to shriek ever louder and sound ever more shrill.

I have no idea whether he has the sense of humour or sense of the absurd to be deliberately inviting the kind of scorn he receives from those Dianne Kholer Barnard represents – and a smattering of those she hopes to represent.

But I have no doubt that it will be Julius Malema who laughs the longest.

31 thoughts on “Julius Malema is the Coming Man

  1. About as accurate a take as I’ve hoped to see, Nic – from anyone. The M&G, to their credit, also started un-demonizing JM.

  2. What will be an interesting trend to watch in future is whether people begin to understand that the ANC does not own them and that they are not beholden to the party..So if Malema becomes the leader…great..and if he represents a core constituency, well, that’s democracy…As long as the citizens of the country can make a choice and decide to vote for anyone else…AZAPO (if it still exists), the UDM, the PAC, Cope (if it makes it) and even the DA…we will be able to move forward. As long as we can have possible transfer of power without violence we should be ok. The ANC’s behavoiur in the Western Cape when it lost votes was interesting…While there was no violence in trying to topple the opposition there was continued illegal wikkeling going on in the dark. Now that is what might be the ANC’s downfall, not Julius Malema, its inability to accept that one day, the people might stop being so “grateful” for the “negotiated settlement” it so expertly brokered. All of this is a very interesting debate for the future…Hold on for a white-knuckle ride…wouldn’t want to be anywhere else….

  3. Yes Marianne, I’m holding on, and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else either.

    On Dianne’s comments (you picked her as representing a certain kind of comment, I believe): the goal is not to lose an argument with the inevitable Julius, nor indeed to ‘win’ – what would that mean anyway? But rather, to peg certain clear boundaries in the political discourse. If we oppose his politics then a) we should say so, and b) we should test the boundaries of our opposition.

    Constant attention to the limits of discourse is much more important than anything else here. How otherwise will we recognise the contracting boundaries of our political arena? In that strange way, Julius Malema is a good thing: he forces democracy into confrontational tests. (I believed the same thing of Jacob Zuma before the 2009 election – his demagoguery is now hogtied by the limits of the job he is elected to do, which I think demonstrates the point that demagogues remain limited by the constitution.) However, we have to be sure that he is not testing our democracy to the point of destruction, and that is the reason taking the fight to Malema.

  4. indeed your a good leader may god continues to give you power to destroy people like vo sello muloto who recorgnise himself as a failure. we relying on you and we have elected you coz w have seen that your a leader. phansi sello phansi and phambili juju phambili

  5. Surely a very sad, sad man. I heard a lot about him. I read his history how he offended and made all kind hate speech remarks even about his “friends” and suddenly I realized that the wisest leader ever Solomon made a lot of remarks about Julius. To quote a few:

    Proverb:10:14: Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.
    Proverb:10:6: Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.
    Proverb:10:18: He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.
    Proverb:11:29: He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.

    I would love to have a discussion with the young man but I suppose he will flee from good sensible conversation – A sad – sad young man.

    1. Bielie is so right ………… wish you were in the shoes of Malema, then we would have a more stable environment to live in !!!

  6. You are the best Malema ntwana, wish u to prosper in everyway of life, let God increase u…

  7. malema se convertirá en el vengador del apharteid que tanto dolor causo a la negritud en sudafrica. Los afrikaner pagaran con sangre el dolor que causaron al pueblo genuino de sudafrica y todo porque este joven lider los conducirá…

  8. Thanks for referring me to your linked post on Malema; I think your analysis
    is both pragmatic and astute. The unspoken (and unanswered) question, of
    course, is what does this mean for the future of South Africa and for you
    and me? I suppose I have to make the point, I don’t mean you and me as white South Africans, but as citizens and individuals with lives to lead.

  9. Hi Glen, I must say I am not as sure my analysis is either pragmatic or astute in this instance …. I constantly have second thoughts about this story (which has proved to be the piece with the most staying power of my blog and continues to get about 500 views a week – 98 percent more than anything else I have written here.) The most serious lack – which I correct over and over again in later posts – is I haven’t adequately portrayed Malema as the voracious and cynical tenderpreneur he probably is… the stuff that is coming home to roost, so to speak, right now. I am busy writing a post that tries to take this all further – especially as Julius is on the back foot and many would argue he is no longer “the coming man”. I personally think Julius is a serious and clever political animal. He is going to go through some hard times but he will be back and more threatening than ever come the ANC elective conference in 2017 … that’s far enough away for people to forget that I got it wrong …. I will post a kind of follow up called, something like, “The ANC is still the prize” some time today. Good luck with your blog. Nic

  10. julius malema must respect jacob zuma because he is a leader,and he is the the leader of this country so julius must follow yhe rules of the president.

  11. you a a star malema kip up talking 4 the nation we need leaders like u who stands foward and say SHIT IS SHIT. i wish u cn du 1 thng just respect the president of the country

  12. Sing Malema sing. As long as they still cherish the old regime and fly high the old SA flag. We’ll continue singing with you.

  13. How can you agree with him? How do you expect future black and white generations to have a love for one another, when the people we are supposed to look up to continue with this racial crap! The A.W.B. (The people who cherish the old regime and fly the old SA flag) was on the verge of coming to an end with all their doings, and then your cherished Julias continued to sing your cherished song and now after the death of E.T. the A.W.B’s membership is rocketing! Julias doesn’t sing that song because of its history, he sings it because of the words in it! He clearly doesn’t like the so called “BOER” (White man). Its bad to see future generations paying for what past generations have done. But the wheel turns, in Zimbabwe they thought they could kill and chase away all the “BOERE” and now they have so much land but don’t know how to do anything with it, and as for their economy… it turns out its cheaper to wipe our ass with their money than to buy toilet paper! Just wish people would just live in harmony, but I guess it’s wishful thinking!

  14. The analogy of the book given at the end of the article is reversed conveniently. The moral dilema is faced by Malema and black South Africans who lost numerous generations to white rape, and are now being asked to love them and protect them. Malema is the only one calling it as is… there needs to be some restitution, and so long as there are poor blacks in who can’t afford food or clothing in significant numbers, and no reparations are being paid, you shall have a Malema.

    The best way to shut him down or others who will rise in his place to fill that vacuum if it is created, is to actively, publicly, demostrably, and with PLENTY white humility extend olive branches, through marriage, reparations what ever methods one can peacefully use to diffuse tensions and effectively preempt these VERY legitimate demands…

    Pretending blacks are stupid and suffering some kind of mass amnesia about centuries of white brutality, and potificating illogic while sitting on the spoils of the great theft of their souls, sweat and land is suicide… This is not America, where whites are the majority and Indians and blacks can be swept under the rug…. justice is a strange and persistent weed.

    Wisdom calls for effective strategy. To answer Nic… for those who have personal lives to live and what a guarantee? Here is very pragmatic advice that Whites should have used when they first landed on the continent to guarantee ownership peacefully and justly… Cleopatra and others from the past used such methods, but seems like we have lost touch with shrewd and peaceful alliance that minimizes political risks when we want to acquire other’s resources for ourselves…. Sharing (Men and women marry each other for these reasons everyday. Families marry each other for the same reason… and if Blacks are not human enough for you to use your loins like normal people to become part of the family and its property… the don’t think that sentiment is lost on blacks… it isobvious… you can’t claim stolen property as your own, no matter how much you “improve on it while you have it and oppress the owner”):

    Advice for those who want to rest their minds forever:

    Let your children fight for you… Have 3 babies with a black woman, and become the father of African children. No one will be able to kick you out. Your children can then go into power and fight for you… Free advice every white male should follow… free advice every white female should take and run with… it is easy, immediate and makes perfect sense from an evolutionary standpoint as well, adaptation for survival. Let your seed become African. If you are too racist to consider this… you deserve what you have coming…. for Justice is a strange weed hard to kill… The Party is over, join the NEW house where the party is at…

  15. Die persoon wat julleooor pryse en vereer om oor hom te praat is absolute mal maar hy is ook n terroris varksige onmaniered kleinjeugdige wat ook n reuse metafoor is vir n klomp nes homself is ver onopgevoed en n gevaar wat die Afrikanners en enige regse sowel as vryehids en vredebelange in suider Afrika moet verwyder.
    Etiese is dit totaal akkuraat om hom tot die dood teveroordeel omdat hy hoegenaamde nie gewys het hy is op en ontvanklik of bekwaam genoeg om die klomp Swartes wat stembusse sal volmaak met ANC kruisies ,te lei na n regverdige landsbelied of een wat in almal se gunste sal speel nie.


Leave a Reply to Andre Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: