Julius Malema: A ‘Chief Economic Freedom Fighter’ with a Dual Agenda
African National Congress (ANC) Branch Secretary, Scholar and Political Analyst, Thembinkosi Zondi, offers an explanation for the African National Congress Youth League’s (ANCYL’s) support for Julius Malema, contending that while it was initially correct to support Malema, his contravention of longstanding ANC principles means that the party ought to not only expel Malema but the whole ANCYL executive, which Zondi views as lacking the political will to defend the ANC.
I should begin by saying that at some point I was prepared to “take up arms” and “kill” for Julius Malema, at least figuratively.
However, his latest outbursts bent on undermining the African National Congress (ANC) and whoever disagrees with him, have made left me wondering if my initial decision to support him was politically correct.
In this brief article I will argue that our initial decision to support Malema, prior to him deviating from our mandate, was without a doubt politically correct for at least two main reasons.
Continued socio-economic inequalities, such as unemployment and deepening poverty that exist side by side with the limited victories of the ANC-led government, were identified as part of key challenges that, in the main, are currently confronting young people.
It was therefore appropriate to have a militant policy proposal, specifically the agenda of “economic freedom in our lifetime” that could culminate into a program that would not only radicalize both the ANC and the government, but one that would adequately respond to our current socio-economic challenges.
But such a program we argued required a strong, militant and politically disciplined African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) and leadership that understood the art of internally lobbying the mother body.
Furthermore, our program required that the ANCYL observe the core values and principles of the ANC. This was out of the realisation that the program was destined to be failed by individuals. But what are these core values and principles which sustained the ANC for 99 years?
The ANC has always valued the principles of unity of ethnicities (and races), humility, self-respect, mutual respect, respect for the ANC leadership and structures, constructive criticism, self- criticism, democratic centralism and organisational democracy – among other things.
For these reasons, Malema became relevant to lead our agenda especially because of (a) his radicalism (although arrogant and unnecessary at times) and (b) his ability to accurately articulate our policy proposals.
What went wrong? So much so, that our agenda of “Economic Freedom in our Lifetime”, took a detour and lost political direction?
It must be understood that we were the first to admit that Malema was fallible, but we gave him a chance to lead us regardless. However, for the reasons that are a subject of speculation, he advocated for a separate agenda.
Part of this different agenda was the misuse of ANCYL 24th Congress’ resolutions by Malema and the undue influence he imposed on some in the Youth League to see themselves as being the “vanguards of the working class” (whatever this means) – a blatant attempt to undermine President Zuma and the current ANC Secretary General.
Although Malema, as an ANC member is entitled to engage in continuous assessment of ANC leadership, but in in his attempt to do so has abused our genuine socio-economic based grievances and support for his other agenda.
While signs of such an agenda existed long before the ANCYL’s elective conference in June 2011, some of which were widely reported in the media, we refused to be influenced by media’s contorted line of thinking.
Our support for Malema was never a blank cheque or license for him to be the sole “economic freedom fighter” ostensibly fighting for our agenda outside the principles of the ANC. It is only natural that the ANC had to close ranks on him and correctly assert its authority in defence of its integrity.
The ANCYL did not sanction Malema to (a) lead a march where ANC flags and t-shirts were burnt and (b) issue a statement his “gloves are off” after the NDC verdict sometime last year.
It is on the basis of the above that, almost similar to Mzala Nxumalo’s “Gatsha Buthelezi: The Chief with a Double Agenda”, that Julius Malema also qualifies to be referred to as the ‘Economic Freedom Fighter’ with a “Dual Agenda”.
So what is to be done?
The harsh reality is that our program and its intended beneficiaries cannot be held to ransom by Malema and his supporters (some of whom are renown for leaving several organisations because of either being suspended or expelled from such formations), and are in all considered as being beyond political repair.
Therefore, the life of the ANCYL must continue. But this means that the ANC must disband the current Youth League executive which includes the beleaguered ANCYL leader, Julius Malema, and appoint an adhoc committee that will prepare for a special Congress.
The appointment must exclude the current national officials of the ANCYL because they have proven beyond a reasonable doubt to lack the political will to defend the ANC as the mother body, fearing that they might lose their current positions.
Lastly, all ANCYL structures that were disbanded must be reinstated starting with KZN ANCYL Provincial leadership which did not support Julius Malema, the self-styled ‘Chief-Economic Freedom Fighter’ with a “Dual Agenda”.
– Thembinkosi “Guerrilla” Zondi is a recently re-elected ANC Branch Secretary for KZ221 Ward 3 and is also a Senior Administrator at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College. He writes in his personal capacity.