Malema gone…

Big news this morning as the ANC National Disciplinary Committee effectively kicked ANC Youth League President Julius Malema out of the party by suspending him for five years.


Julius et al have 14 days in which to appeal, but the individuals sitting on the appeals committee – chaired by Cyril Ramaphosa, and consisting of National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, national executive committee member Jessie “Happy Happy” Duarte and former public enterprises minister Brigitte Mabandla – won’t be looking too appealing to him: Comrades all, but no allies in sight. Although, as political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi says:

Members of the committee should set aside their personal feelings about Mr Malema should his case be brought before them. It is not because of individuals that the committee will rule in a particular way.

They will reverse the decision of the disciplinary committee if they think the committee did not apply its mind properly and uphold it if they think the committee applied their minds.

Interesting times ahead in South Africa. As ever.

Just another ANCYL press release

I swear, you can’t make this sort of thing up. But someone does.
This one goes out to all those overseas people who will think that it was me that made it up.

First came this, from ANCYL President Julius Malema at the pre-opening party of the ZAR nightclub in Cape Town:

Helen Zille will not close ZAR at 2am, like she does to other clubs in Cape Town. The ANC owns ZAR and we will party until the morning.

Then came the rebuke from ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe here:

The ANC would like to state categorically that it has no interest in running a nightclub or in endorsing its owners. The ANC is not into nightclubs or partying, it is a revolutionary movement.
We reiterate our condemnation of serving sushi on a woman’s body, as this act is anti-ANC and anti-revolutionary. This act is defamatory, insensitive and undermining of woman’s integrity.

How many other political parties worldwide have had to distance themselves from the practice of running nightclubs and serving raw fish on a woman’s body? They may have back-tracked on tuition fees, but I don’t think the Tories or the LibDems ever have.
Look, to be honest, Saddam Hussein was a pretty nasty bloke if those stories are to be believed, but at no point did his Ba’ath party ever have to tell us that they’d checked their party manual and they weren’t able to condone snacks being eaten from a half-naked model’s belly button.
It’s these sort of things that keep politics interesting in SA.

But it gets better, because then the ANCYL released this re-rebuke and slight retraction in reply to the earlier rebuke from Mantashe.

And it’s this one which for me contains one of the best lines in any press release ever:

We further do not agree with serving of any kind of food on human bodies and have in expressed this sentiment publicly in the past. This should however not undermine and rubbish that successful, young black entrepreneurs are breaking new ground and engaging in efforts that will lead to greater social relations across racial lines.

Brilliant. See how they’ve gone beyond sushi to include any kind of food? See how they’ve gone beyond women to include any kind of human? Sure – they’ll still happily scoff prawn sashimi off the head of a well-trained Jack Russell terrier, but they’re not going to even so much as touch a vol-au-vent that’s been on some bloke’s knee.

Of course, the only issue with that blanket ban on foodstuffs being served on human platters is that apparently, successful, young black entrepreneurs were kind of relying on the whole eating sushi from half-naked (and presumably white) models in order to improve social relations across racial lines.

Now they’re going to have to, y’know, talk to them and stuff – and this without the “you’ve got bits of maki roll on your bikini top, pet” icebreaker. Can’t the elders in the ANC see how this is going to set back social relations across racial lines for years to come?

The party’s stance on the serving of sushi from women’s bodies to successful, young black entrepreneurs and the effect that it may have on greater social relations across racial lines must, must be top priority at the next ANC Conference.

The future of our country depends upon it, Comrade.

Good value?

Much anger this week in South Africa as it emerged that the cost of police protection for ANCYL President Julius Malema for 12 months to October 2010 was R886,668.54 – once again, people are ranting first and then (not) thinking later.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question by Pieter Groenewald of the Freedom Front Plus, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said the VIP protection was provided from October 23 last year to October 11 this year.
Two close protectors at a time were provided, and the cost totalled R886 668,54, he said.

Now, I’m not saying that R886,668.54 isn’t a lot of wonga – it’s equivalent to $128,500 or £80,460 – and that sort of money can do a lot of good in a country like South Africa. But then, it’s not simply the amount of outlay that determines worth: one must also take into account the value which that service provides.

…at which point every angry whitey in the country dives in and tells us it’s worth nothing – you only have to check out some of the comments on that article:

Utter waste. As a taxpayer I am beginning to get more and more upset at the way this government wastes money; perhaps a tax revolt is in order?

Waste of money yes, perhaps not quite as popular as he thinks he is.

etc etc etc…

But let’s stop and think about the moment that some angry Afrikaner (or any other) is finally pushed over the edge by the latest instalment of Julius’ seemingly constant inflammatory chatter, goes to his gun safe, takes out his legally-owned firearm and heads down to the ANCYL roadshow as it passes through his Free State town to show his displeasure in a very public, very final way.

And then let’s consider the consequences of that for this country. Unpretty.

There would be those who would say that Malema has put himself in that position with his style of speech and I wouldn’t disagree. There will be still others who argue that because he puts himself in that position, he should pay for his own protection. I don’t think that’s such a bad idea either.
But because of his public nature and the implications were he offed by unhappy person, I think the government has a responsibility to protect him.
And that responsibility is to the country, not to Mr Malema.

I recognise that this is probably a pretty unpopular viewpoint, but there was the perfect example of this situation in the UK just yesterday with the violence at the student protest in London. Had the police initially come out in force, they would have been criticised for their unnecessary over the top reaction and the consequent “waste of taxpayers’ money”. But now they find themselves in a worse situation: having to explain why they were seemingly unprepared for the apparently unforeseen violence which accompanied the demonstrations – and why they failed to prevent it.

And that was just a few broken windows, not a civil war.

What now?

Even as the Easter Bunny (me) was busy laying bunny tracks and eggs in the back garden at dawn, news was filtering through of the murder of Eugene Terre’Blanche. Now, while Eugene was not a terribly nice bloke by any stretch of the imagination, he was still (genetically, at the very least) a human being and he met a horrible and unnecessary end. His death is a bad thing for his organisation, his family and his friends. It could be a very bad thing for South Africa.

That said, I don’t think that Terre’Blanche’s murder will be a trigger for mass racial violence. For all his bravado and words, he actually wielded very little power. His ideas were outdated and laughably extreme, his organisation largely ignored. For this reason, I don’t believe that there was anything more to his death than meets the eye. Whatever they may wish to believe, the AWB is nothing more than a fly on the thick skin of the ANC elephant – not even acknowledged as an irritation. So why bother?

The concern for me is some possible retaliation for Terre’Blanche’s death. That some idiot goes out and – unilaterally – avenges the murder with some act of mindless violence. And so it escalates: quickly.
Branko Brkic paints the perfect scenario for the start of a  civil war, citing Yugoslavia and Rwanda as examples. Many of the ingredients are worryingly present in the current SA. As he points out, South Africa needs to think clearly now.

Many will blame this murder on Julius Malema, the firebrand leader of the ANC Youth League. Some already have. But the truth is that we will never honestly know whether Malema’s words and alleged hate speech were a factor in this attack. But the continuing simmering racial tension is undoubtedly being heightened by his actions. As Helen Zille remarks:

“The singing of songs such as ‘kill the boer’ creates a climate in which violence is seen as an appropriate response to problems, whether personal or collective.”

This is a potential turning point for South Africa and it’s important to choose the correct direction. Sense should prevail.
Jacob Zuma could aid in this by reining Malema in. Whether or not Terre’Blanche’s death was due to Malema’s much-publicised recent comments, his words are divisive and unhelpful, just as Terre’Blanche’s were. The only difference is that Malema is getting as much free publicity as he wants to spread his gospel. And that has to stop.

It’s time to take a step back, a deep breath, some time out. And listen again to the sense of Branko Brkic:

White people should understand that their black friends are not going to kill them tomorrow because two frustrated, drunken youths killed Terre’Blanche somewhere in North West.
Black people should understand their white friends will not form the Ku Klux Klan just because a couple of hotheads are threatening revenge.

I hope that South Africa has come far enough to overcome this latest and difficult hurdle.
Watch this space, I guess.