Malema’s ‘renegade run’ troubles the ANC
JULIUS Malema is no longer a member of the African National Congress (ANC). "He is now a citizen, like any other," says the party’s head of peace and stability, Siphiwe Nyanda, as the young firebrand carries on stoking the political fires.
Mr Nyanda, like many in the ruling party, doesn’t want to talk about Mr Malema as he is no longer part of the party, at least officially. This is similar to how some senior leaders of the party do no want to talk about "Marikana", as they see it as just another labour matter.
Like Marikana, Mr Malema haunts the ANC but it is because he stirs the political environment, forcing the party and its allies to do damage control.
Analysts say Mr Malema’s spirited drive to cause as much trouble as quickly as he can is just a bubble that will soon burst. He was interviewed by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday evening, the same night the SABC canned a planned interview on Metro FM. As Mr Malema thrives in mocking and criticising President Jacob Zuma, the SABC has been under pressure not to give Mr Malema airtime.
Ahead of the ANC’s Polokwane national conference five years ago, the SABC management was accused of blacklisting commentators who were seen to be opposed to then president Thabo Mbeki’s re-election.
Mr Malema flourishes as ANC leaders hide their heads in the sand, only saying he is no longer a member of the party. He has made it his mission to embarrass the ANC and its allies — especially Mr Zuma and those associated with him.
His meeting with members of the army south of Johannesburg yesterday is just an example of how far Mr Malema’s renegade run can go — creating a perception of chaos and instability in the process.
A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, is worried that Mr Malema will be campaigning against the ANC in the 2014 elections. "He will be telling people not to vote for the ANC because it is led by the wrong people," he says.
Mr Malema has made it his mission to trash Mr Zuma, as his hopes of returning to the ANC hinge on a leadership change. But there is no guarantee that a new set of leaders will take him back.
The other side of the coin is that Mr Malema has enough reason to run around causing trouble. He hopes this will make him a powerful force. The taxman and the public protector are on his case, investigating his unexplained wealth and allegations that he received kickbacks for organising tenders in his home base, Limpopo.
The meeting with disgruntled soldiers yesterday saw Mr Malema seizing the moment and the limelight. The Defence Ministry and the leadership of the army’s over-the-top reactions suggested there was panic because Mr Malema was now venturing into an area considered sensitive, both politically and security-wise. The ministry said Mr Malema was on a campaign to make South Africa ungovernable.
Mr Nyanda says that, up to now, t he South African National Defence Force has stuck to its mandate of safeguarding the country from "foreign aggression" and has not been roped into the ANC’s factional battles. "The defence force has been very stable, it has stayed very clear from politics ."
The ANC’s role after the Marikana massacre was to give leadership. The party had to "articulate itself" and guide the government in countering the perception of ungovernability.
Mr Nyanda said the party had not discussed the Marikana events in any detail yet because it did not want to jump into the areas that would be dealt with. This would happen once the judicial commission of inquiry Mr Zuma has been appointed gets going.
Mr Nyanda said the youthful troublemaker was free to go and speak to people anywhere in the country, but the ANC did not agree with the things he said in Marikana and other places.
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