Julius Malema: South Africa’s Next President?
Many of my countrymen do not want to contemplate the possibility that the ANC Youth League leader may one day become the president of South Africa. But what’s to stop that happening?
The leader of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) is someone we all love to hate? But is he really? He is a very controversial figure who has much to say about many things. If he is not embracing the policies of the Zimbabwean ruler Robert Mugabe on appropriation of everything from land to mines without compensating the current owners, he sings freedom songs that offend a specific segment of the population. He has allegedly benefitted from tenders being awarded to companies in which he is a stakeholder where the government’s own tender processes were blatantly bypassed to ensure that the tender goes to friends or family. He lives in one of the most affluent suburbs of Johannesburg, drives luxury cars and is not averse to drinking only the best (and most expensive) whiskey. According to newspaper reports he owns two houses worth R5million, and cars worth R1.2 million. He surrounds himself with armed bodyguards wherever he goes.
Most educated people both within and outside of the ANC regard him as an immature pain in the neck and he gets slapped on the wrist by his own organisation quite regularly. Both the local and international press love portraying him as an ill-mannered opinionated oaf with double standards. Even within his own organisation there are those who feel that the time has come for him to be voted out of his leadership role. He deals with them swiftly, using the police force to further his own ambitions.
But where does he come from? Born in 1981, he grew up in poverty stricken circumstances with his mother. Apparently he did not do particularly well at school, but that did not prevent him from becoming the leader of COSAS, a radical student movement. So, despite his less than ideal start in life, he is now a leader of a very large grouping.
Who are his constituents? His followers are people like himself. Youth who were born and grow up in poverty, often in single parent families. Young people who have only the very basic education and who have been failed by a system that pays lip service to human development. Disgruntled people who have nothing to lose if land is expropriated and mines are nationalised. His followers happen to make up the largest grouping in South African society.
In a democracy it is the numbers game that counts and JuJu (as he is “affectionately” known) certainly has the numbers on his side.