Expelled African National Congress Youth League President Julius Malema had plead guilty earlier to one charge of violating discipline within the ruling party in the Republic of South Africa. He recently granted an interview with the Zimbabwe Sunday Mail., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
‘Something fishy between Zanu-PF & ANC’
Saturday, 23 June 2012 20:22
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail
Following his visit to Zimbabwe in 2010, former ANC Youth League president Cde Julius Malema (JM) has been accused of receiving funding from some Zimbabwean business people, has been accused of clandestinely venturing into the country’s mining and tourism industry and some people say he became more radical after that visit. Our Assistant Editor Munyaradzi Huni (MH) tracked down Cde Malema in South Africa and caught up with him at his Sandton apartment last week where the firebrand politician was breathing fire.
MH: Cde Malema, you have become an icon in South Africa and beyond in terms of representing the youths. So much has been written and said about you, but we want to know: who exactly is Julius Malema from Malema’s point of view?
JM: I am a young South African who is a political activist and grew up in the African National Congress. I am fighting for equal opportunities for all youths in the world, on the continent and in the country.
MH: How does Julius Malema want to be understood?
JM: We want to be understood as a young people who are representing radical change.
MH: Before you became this icon, Cde Malema, what did you want to be?
JM: (laughs) I have grown up in politics. I came into politics at nine years as a young pioneer and from then when I was at primary I was active. I went to high school and became more active and that’s when we got involved in the politics of the ANC. I have not known any other life except politics and those who have been our role models have always been in the political arena. So I am not like those who grew up wanting to be doctors, a lawyer or a teacher. I have never had such a role model in my upbringing and only looked up to politicians and the political leadership.
MH: What can you say has been one of the happiest moments in your life?
JM: When we got our freedom in 1994, we were all very happy also with the release of Nelson Mandela. We thought all our problems had come to an end, but little did we know that that was the beginning of more challenges and only realised that as we entered into a democratic South Africa, we were now expected to take responsibility and change the lives of people from policy into practical meaning.
MH: And what has been your saddest moment?
JM: I got very disappointed recently when I got expelled from the organisation that I thought I would die in — that was my life. And that was the only home that I have known and that is what I existed for. I got highly disappointed especially by those that I had trusted and committed our lives defending — those individuals were not prepared to do the same for us. It became a very sad moment and it opened a new chapter in my life. The confusion is very clear, but there is nothing next except to sit here outside the gate of the ANC until such a time they reopen the gate for me to go back.
MH: As you were growing up, Cde Malema, who was your role model and who is your role model today?
JM: We were inspired by many leaders of the ANC. Peter Mukaba is one of them, Winnie Mandela is one of them, President Mandela also made a huge impact in our lives and how we conduct ourselves because in everything we do, we seek to be like him. Internationally, I think President Fidel Castro, who we had an opportunity to meet. So, those are the people who inspired me.
MH: People out there also ask, what does Malema read? What books, magazines and newspapers do you read?
JM: I read political books and discussion documents. Now of late there is no book that one is reading because we are concentrating on the policy discussion documents of the ANC. I read a lot of biographies of heroes and heroines of our struggle here and internationally. We also read communist books.
MH: Who are some of the politicians in the ANC you would say contributed to your being the icon that you are today?
JM: The ANC has contributed a lot to what we are today and the ANC continues to play that role. I wouldn't single out one individual because we are close to many leaders of the ANC, but I know that Cde Kgalema Motlanthe made a huge contribution, especially when he became a national leader when I was president of COSAS we would make radical statements and he would make time to sit down with us . . . he would sit down with us and engage us on the statements we would have made, including giving us guidance as to how some of those statements could be very dangerous. We always listened to his advice and we always appreciated his patience.
MH: Cde Malema, South Africa is quite a unique country. You have settler whites here who don’t want to go back to their countries. They say they are South Africans. What do you think about the rights of these whites?
JM: We are a different country and we took a different direction. We embraced everyone in this country in 1955 when we met in Cape Town and adopted the Freedom Charter and we put it that we are South Africans and we should be defended. We then continued the struggle for a non-racial South Africa and we agreed with them that they are South Africans and they should be protected as South Africans like any other person, but they know that they were the oppressors at some point.
The suffering of the black South Africans, the majority, is as a result of their oppression and they should never behave like they have never done anything wrong because the problem is that the oppressed is doing everything in his power to show that he has forgiven what the white oppressors have done. But in return, they have become very arrogant and they have gained too much confidence and they see our approach of reconciliation, that of forgiveness, as being cowards.
MH: We understand that the majority of them now hold influential positions in the judiciary, in the media . . .
JM: They control everything. They hold 80 percent of the economy. They have got huge influence in the judiciary, they have got huge influence in the media and even in politics. Some of them have even co-opted some of our leaders into their neo-liberal agenda of undermining a progressive change. So you should not undermine their influence and actually they have noticed that because there is some lack of unity amongst the freedom fighters, that represents an opportunity for them to infiltrate us and to regroup and still perpetuate the apartheid laws and an attitude by manipulating the democratic laws. So they use our own laws, they use our own state to actually continue with their agendas of making the black majority South Africans suffer. And they do that unashamedly, some of our leaders are part of that now. There are some amongst us who have just sold out and are not prepared to continue with the struggle.
MH: What is your message to these whites who are now behaving in this manner?
JM: They need to just change the conditions and they need to be prepared to share with the rest of the country, including surrendering the land they stole through committing black genocide when they engaged in the wars of dispossession. They need to begin surrendering some of those things because our people are running out of patience. We are now going into almost 20 years into democracy and our people have got very little to show for this democracy, and this cannot be correct. So the sooner they surrender, especially the economic power, which is what our people need today, the better in order to guarantee their security.
MH: There is also talk that South Africa is more welcoming to whites than blacks. For an example, if a black person comes from another African country, it’s very difficult for them to get a job, but if a white person comes to South Africa, it’s easy to get a job. What is your comment on this?
JM: They get a job because their fellow South Africans, white South Africans, are in control of the economy. They trust a white skin than a black skin. They wanted to plant a seed of intolerance and hatred among Africans, hence there were minor incidences of xenophobia here which we had to rein on them and educate our people that it is not your fellow African, an African brother, who is an enemy, but the enemy are those who are monopolising the economy and refusing to surrender your land back.
MH: In 1998, former South African leader Thabo Mbeki said South Africa is one country with two nations. Do you see these two nations surviving in parallel forever or is there a meeting point somewhere?
JM: Look, there is no meeting point. The point that he was emphasising were the two economies. I am here in Sandton, but just across the road there is Alexandra. It's as if we are not in one country. Visible poverty, unemployment — people without hope, children heading families because their parents have died because of other killer diseases, people living in an unhappy society. And when you cross the road, you got the rich, very wealthy people who own more than 2 000 square metres of land when people in Alexandra are sharing 50 square metres of land. We live with that as if nothing is wrong with that. Actually, these whites becoming more and more arrogant even starting to say this Alexandra can be shifted, so yet they are not exposed to the cultures of these people.
So there is no non-racial society. It's multi-racial which defeats the purpose of creating a non-racial society.
We are creating a multi-racial society without a common objective of where we want to take South Africa to. But the majority, which is what matters, do not have access to such high life and, as a result, it is going to be difficult to build a society that tolerates each other because we don’t know each other.
We can't even marry each other. That's what the deputy president of the youth league says.
We can't get white girlfriends because we don't go to the same cinemas, we don't go to the same social clubs and we don’t go to the same sporting courses.
MH: But there is talk that Malema lives a luxurious life. If this is true, how do you balance this luxurious life and this struggle you are talking about?
JM: I am waiting for somebody to define to me what a luxurious life is because I was the president of the youth, I came from Limpopo, in Polokwane, and became president of the Youth League. I got myself accommodation here in Sandton because I was creditworthy and what made me creditworthy is because I earned a salary. They began to say that my salary was R20 000, little did they know that my salary was far beyond R50 000. So the banks like creditworthy people and when I went there, like any other person, I said here I am, I am prepared to be exploited by the banks.
So a luxurious life cannot be on the basis of an address and a street name. It must be on the basis of what you have and they confuse that saying you are holding parties and all that. But they don't know that when I throw a party, it is very rare that I will spend money on anything because the friends will say I will deal with champagne, I will deal with beer . . . so we share the responsibilities and it becomes a beautiful occasion because of our contributions.
I am a child of a domestic worker. My parents, the only parent remaining, my mother, is still in the township and all my life is a life of struggle that I experienced in the township.
That’s why I identify easily with the struggle and the working class because that's where I come from, that's who I am. That will never change.
I grow up under poverty and will never erase those memories. And when you talk about poverty, those images just come into one's mind and I can easily understand what you are talking about. I will continue to champion the people's cause. Black people were oppressed and Joe Slovo joined the struggle for the oppressed, but he was not oppressed, he was not black, he was white. So you don't have to be poor to fight the struggle for the poor people.
MH: Cde Malema, we also know that in South Africa, you sing two national anthems. Isn’t this a reminder of apartheid? Why not come up with one national anthem?
JM: Yes, it was a product of a compromise reached by our leaders at that time and as we continue in the nation building, I think that debate will have to arise. That's when you have a society with a common vision.
Because there is lack thereof of creating social cohesion and a common purpose for the South African society, we still exist in those compromises that were reached about 20 years ago. It's a point that as part of building one country, a united South Africa, we need to re-look into those things because it came as a result of a government of national unity and that government of national unity is no longer there.
MH: There is growing debate that the most important rallying point for the youths in Southern Africa is resource nationalism. Do you think this is true?
JM: We need to find a way of building our own nations with a common purpose. We need our resources. Southern Africa should be a starting point of having a common purpose and that rallying point should then be consolidated to a point where the whole continent understands that this is what the future is because the youths are the future. As long as they have a rallying point, something that gives hope for a united Africa.
MH: So do you think the model in Royal Bafokeng should be emulated in other African countries?
JM: It's a debate that we can have, but I am not of the view that resources must be given to tribals. African governments are connected and they are the ones that must manage the resources.
MH: Do you think the youths in the region are well prepared to defend their countries and resources?
JM: We were beginning to move in that direction in the ANC, but we were disrupted by the development over the past few weeks.
The Youth League had began to influence the youths of Southern Africa and Africa to a direction of reclaiming our resources. We had a conference here in December 2010, where the youths of the world declared a war against imperialism and colonialism. So we were beginning to do a good job in conscientising the youths of Southern Africa and Africa about that. The ANC Youth League is better positioned to lead in that process because of South Africa’s position in the African economy.
MH: Do you think the liberation movements, especially those still in power in the region, are doing enough to protect their countries and resources?
JM: Well, they are doing their best. You must know that liberation movements are under a serious attack from the imperialist forces and they are doing everything in their power to weaken liberation movements. Now they are fighting for their survival and the Zimbabwean model is an example of liberation movements that are taking charge now. They can say whatever they want to say in front of tvs and in newspapers, but behind closed doors, they actually appreciate the progress made in Zimbabwe.
In many other parts of the continent, where liberation movements are in charge, there are no serious radical programmes to change the living conditions of our people, partly because we want to try and reassure imperialist forces that after defeating them we are actually not about to destroy what they had built. That is not working for us. I think we need to be more radical.
MH: Some people say President Mugabe is more connected to resource nationalism as evidenced by the land reform programme and indigenisation that he is spearheading in Zimbabwe. What is your take on that?
JM: It's correct. Zimbabweans have taken back their land. The land is in their hands and now they want diamonds, they want platinum, they want tobacco, they want resources of that country. The Zimbabwean government is beginning slowly but surely to rebuild it's economy and you can see that there is some direction and shape that the country is taking.
Any radical shift of any change, comes with pain. So Zimbabweans have had to go through a lot of necessary pain in order to rebuild themselves and own what rightly belongs to them. So the imperialist forces have realised that you mean business. That's what they want. They just want to see your seriousness and commitment to the cause, then they will come to the table and say but how do we move forward. But everyday when you wake up, and worry about what the investors say, then you are lost — because what will people say? Investors don't vote for you, the people vote for you. What is important is the people. There is nobody who can go hungry if that person has got land unless you are lazy and that's your problem.
MH: You have been very vocal advocating for nationalisation in South Africa. Can you explain yourself on this one because it seems some people don’t really understand you?
JM: Well, we want the government to have a greater control of the mining industry in South Africa because the mining industry accounts for a bigger portion of our economy. The unfortunate thing is that it is still in the hands of the minority who many of them are not even here in South Africa and do not know the levels of poverty that is written on the faces of those mining communities where they steal the mineral resources.
We want government to have a 60 percent stake in the mining industry. We are not calling for the nationalisation of everything. In our document we are speaking about profitable mineral resources and we are talking about mines that can bring results without having to wait for a longer time before they declare profits. We are talking about a situation where anybody who wants to mine in South Africa must come with the machines, we will come with our minerals, our land and our labour.
MH: Is this nationalisation the same as indigenisation?
JM: They are almost the same, but indigenisation is about private Zimbabweans being given the majority shareholding. The difference is that we are saying we don't want this 60 percent to be given to individuals. It must be given to the state because the state must be able to manage that on behalf of the people. If a profit is declared, the money goes into the coffers of the state and it's invested to the community through education, health, infrastructure development and all sectors that relate to service delivery.
Our governments are not able to meet commitments made during election time because the purse we have does not have sufficient money to cover everything.
So you need extra money. Where do you get that extra money? That extra money is under ground. We must go and fetch it and bring it into the purse.
MH: What do you think of the relationship between Zimbabwe and South Africa in general but also the relationship between Zanu-PF and the ANC in particular?
JM: Look, we are brothers. We are one family and we need to support one another. We come from a painful past and we share almost similar experiences. Now we have even gone beyond that. We are now beginning to marry each other. We have got relatives on both sides. We need that closeness. The two of us if we combine ourselves, we account for about 80 percent of the world platinum. This makes us very powerful nations. We need to talk about how we utilise this influence, potential influence we can have in the world.
MH: In light of what has happened to you politically, what are your views now of President Zuma?
JM: I think I have made a point that we actually misled ourselves because, like artists, we decided to throw our own imaginations which were not real. We used to say President Zuma knows everything about the economy, he is an economist . . . but the reality is that, he didn't know anything about the economy.
We said he was a unifier, but the reality is that he is a divider. The ANC is more divided today than it was before and his style of leadership is that of being intolerant to those who have got a different view. I think
Zimbabweans and Zanu-PF and President Mugabe, what contributes more to his hatred of those comrades is because of their close relationship with President Mbeki then. And I think he suspects that they might have supported President Mbeki and not him and this is an opportunity to get to them.
MH: Talking about President Mbeki, do you think he should have gone for another term?
JM: No, I don't agree with that. So you see that President Zuma who was this unifier. We said he listens to everybody, including the ordinary people, but he doesn't listen to anybody. He listens to himself and his faction. I mean on this point, the Youth League was elected last year in June and he said I will be with you. We were in a conference last year and he said that, but until today, he has never met us. He expelled me from the ANC from that congress before he even met me to deliver to him the results of the congress and the resolutions. I regret why I participated in a campaign to have him as a president because we actually misled South Africans.
We had to force him through the throats of people who didn't want him. And I regret that. I wish that there could be a way of correcting that. That’s why I will not support him for the second term in Mangaung because I don't want to repeat the same mistake.
MH: Cde Malema, the ANC leadership has said your case is closed and won’t be up for discussion in Mangaung. Does this mean the end of Malema?
JM: You know, that thing is wrong because the national conference, the highest decision-making body, can reverse the decisions of NEC. Branches discuss any other issues they would want to discuss about the ANC. So it is wrong for leadership to say the matter is closed and cannot be discussed there. It comes back to what I have said about the dictatorial leadership which is intolerant, which is not ready to listen to anybody. Why would you stop branches in the conference when they say they want to discuss this matter in a democratic organisation, in a democratic society? The ANC always says the power of the party is with the branches and not the leadership, but today leaders can’t tell branches what to do.
MH: But the ANC leadership has given reasons for your expulsion. Do you regret anything?
JM: No, not at all. What reasons? Which reasons? I was expelled for Botswana, but Botswana is the resolution of the Youth League. It's there in black and white. I was expelled for African leadership, but there has been a decline since the departure of President Mbeki. It's there in the resolutions of the Youth League. Those are not Malema family trust resolutions. They are resolutions of the Youth League.
They didn't expel me because of those things. They are scared of the Youth League. They are scared of children. They are cowards because if they were not cowards, they were supposed to challenge our views through branches of the ANC.
They must put those views to the test and see if those views will see the light of day. But they know that if this Youth League is still there, its views will prevail. They are scared of nationalisation because they are in the pockets of capitalists.
MH: So do you think you still have a future in the ANC?
JM: ANC is my home. I am part of the ANC and I will continue voting for the ANC. I was not expelled by the ANC, but was expelled by a factional group led by President Zuma. ANC policies are very clear about discipline. The policies say discipline must not be used to settle personal scores, but in my case, political scores were settled through discipline.
MH: Cde Malema, are the youths in South Africa happy? Where do you see South Africa in the next 10 years?
JM: The youths in South Africa are not happy. They don't have jobs, they don't have education, they are homeless, they are suffering from disease, they don't have skills.
That’s why you see protests everywhere and when you look at those protests, you see the youths are not happy. We will continue fighting and I will lobby at any protest that I get invited. I will be part of those who are protesting for service delivery and the genuine demands that our people are making.
If people can march for a spear, then it means people can march for anything. A spear, a painting. How can you march for a painting? They have never marched for a rape, they have never marched for houses, they have never marched for free education — they wake up one day to march for a spear.
And they want us to call that leadership. There is too much anger amongst young people but also disappointment about this leadership.
We have seen what happened on June 16, what was supposed to be a memorable day when we pay respect and honour those who died for this country, we see a president leaving the country saying he is going to Mexico. Instead of honouring our heroes and heroines of the struggle, he chose to go and dine with the imperialists in the G20 because that is what matters to him. The youths of South Africa must now show him what they are made of.
MH: There is also talk that you have become so popular that some people are saying you will one day be the leader of the ANC. Do you believe that?
JM: Yes, I will lead the ANC. When you grow up in the ANC, in the Youth League, you are actually in a school to become the leader of the ANC.
MH: So who do you think is going to be elected as president of the ANC in December?
JM: I don't want to predict that because there are many names that the comrades are throwing around, but it's definitely not President Zuma. I don't see him coming back.
He should face reality and start packing his bags. As a way to show that he has no confidence, he has suppressed anybody from speaking about that because he is scared of rejection. If he was so confident that he will come back, he would have opened this matter in January. So when he opens it in October, you are actually closing space for people to lobby for their candidate. He came through lobbying, we lobbied for him for almost three years before Polokwane, but he cannot allow people to lobby for at least a year. I am not saying this only to you. I have said it to him. I have said this to the ANC leadership when I was still seating in their meetings.
MH: Talking about Libya, do you think the African Union could have played a better part in finding a solution to the issue?
JM: Yes, we should have taken a more radical stance, including sending troops once he was being threatened with attack. The African Union should have come together and said you know what, we are going to send our people to defend the sovereignty of Libya because a threat to the sovereignty of Libya is a threat to the whole of Africa. But then you had South Africa under President Zuma voting for the killing of Gaddafi. For me, this is something we should never forget. President Zuma must be held accountable. Why did we vote for the killing of our fellow African brother? We should continue singing this song because he participated in the killing of an African brother. The people of Libya should have been given a chance to choose their leader. A rented crowd was organised to kill the Libyan leader with Nato in the forefront. Those rebels should have been attended to the way rebels are attended to . . . The African Union allowed the Arab League to speak on a matter about an African country.
MH: Do you fear for your life because of the latest developments in your political life?
JM: No, not at all . . .
MH: What do you think of the judiciary in South Africa?
JM: It needs to be transformed. It's still biased, but we all respect it . . . the judiciary is not to blame. The political leadership should be blamed. The political leadership must take deliberate move to transform the judiciary . . .
MH: We have also seen the regrouping of former Rhodies who are coming here in South Africa working with apartheid elements to fight against the struggle in Zimbabwe.
What is your comment?
JM: South African courts should never create an impression that they have jurisdiction in Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans have their own courts. Zimbabwe is a sovereign country and South African judges and the judiciary should respect that. They can’t instruct the government of South Africa to say go and do this investigation about Zimbabwe. It's wrong.
It's not done. Zimbabwe should be respected.
It's not a tenth province of South Africa.
MH: We understand that very soon you will be going on a tour of some African countries. Can you shed more light on this tour?
JM: Well, I have been approached by friends of the Youth League who said we should interact with other African youths to inspire confidence and reassure them that the economic struggle should not be undermined. I will be having a discussion with them about it. But I don't think it is the right time for us to leave the country. I think our battles are here. One or two days we will sneak out of the country and come back because we must fight our struggle here.
MH: Cde Malema, as we conclude this interview, with such a hectic life and all that is written and said about you, many people are asking: who is the lady in your life and does she share the same ideology with you?
JM: Well, I don't have any lady in my life. I am still fighting a political battle. Women need time and attention and they don't want to contest for that attention. And so as you are concentrating on the revolution, you may not have enough time for the woman.
Of course I have got a child with a lady who is now engaged to some fellow in Polokwane and I take care of my child. I am going to do everything in my power to do the best I can so that he doesn't grow up under the same situation we had to go through. I don't rule out the possibility of getting involved with a lady anytime because issues of love are not like an occasion where you know there is going to be an occasion or a Christmas party on the 24th of December. But now I am busy with the revolution.