Wednesday, June 18, 2008

ANC Youth League President puts his foot in it (his mouth)

Stupid stupid speech!
Julius Malema (The Sowetan newspaper)Julius Malema, the by now (even more) controversial ANC Youth League President, is said to be on the defence after his inciting remarks in Thaba Nchu (Free State) at a Youth Day rally. The ANC President, Jacob Zuma, was in attendance and did not use his own speech later on to rebuke the young firebrand, but rather stuck to his prepared speech and ignored Malema's inexcusable utterings.

If you missed the news coverage on Malema's remarks, you can read about it here (The Times), but the following quote sums up the offending speech pretty well :

“Let us make it clear now: we are prepared to die for Zuma. Not only that, we are prepared to take up arms and kill for Zuma,”

This thoughtless inciting remark was apparently received with applause from the crowd... I don't think the above statement by Malema really requires any comment, it speaks for itself. Suffice to say that South Africa really needs better quality leaders with more common sense and respect for democracy and the rule of law.

The journalist and the war monger
A Times political reporter, Moipone Malefane, recorded an interview with Malema to get clarity on what he may have meant with his ill chosen rants. The audio interview follows at the end of this post. Instead of gracefully distancing him from his moment of foolishness he seems to only dive deeper into the murky waters of shallow, ideological, rhetoric. Malefane, on the other hand needs to be commended for not being thrown, but relentlessly asking piercing questions. She's clearly more of a print than broadcast journalist and is not very smooth in terms of presentation, but she zooms in mercilessly on the target!

- exactly who does the ANCYL want to kill?
Malefane pointedly asks him who 'they' are prepared to kill, perhaps the judiciary (in retaliation for the prosecution of Zuma on corruption charges)? Malema tries to skirt the issue vaguely stating that they (the ANCYL?) will kill those who try to undermine black majority rule. Malefane then points out that Zuma is being prosecuted under a black government. He then claims his comments is not related to the legal prosecution of Zuma but against the 'forces of darkness' who wish to portray the ANC leadership as 'the most corrupt people who will never lead any successful government' (cue Darth Vader breathing effect in the background here). Malefane: "Who are these forces?". In not answering her question Malema then uses a term that is fast becoming a pet hate of mine, claiming that he is talking about 'counter-revolutionary forces'. The latter term is becoming the preferred twin to labelling legitimate criticism of the Government or ANC as being racist.

- are you not inciting violence?
Interesting, in denying stoking up violence Malema employs another trick often used by politicians finding themselves in difficult corners of their own making. He starts using 'we' rather than 'I' or 'me'. Suddenly it is collective. 'No, no, we are not saying...'. Was Malema conveying official ANCYL policy, I hope not? I doubt it, although the Youth League of late is a strange animal.

And just as I'm thinking about the above, I press the play button for the rest of the interview and Malefane zooms in again with her next question:

- the statement that you made... ...did you canvas it within the ANC Youth League... that what the ANC Youth League believe...?
Then Malema goes back to talking about the 'revolution' and that the ANCYL has always said that it will pay the highest price to defend it. Probably quite true in content, but he's clearly uncomfortable with the question.

- give me an example of what would cause the Youth League to take up arms?
Malema tries to avoid answering, he can't really... He mumbles about 'no need'.

- but you can't put out a statement if there's no need? there a threat?
Malema is suddenly a little lame. The bravado is somewhat deflated now. In an almost apologetic tone he tries the old line: 'There's no threat... we are just saying to you... so committed to this revolution we can even die... and kill for it (sic)'. Now he's really burying himself, he actually said there is no threat! Why the great hooha?

- do you think your statement was responsible?
'Yes, very responsible...'. Sure. 'It's a revolutionary statement'. Oh, off course, now it all makes sense! Thank you comrade Malema, why didn't I see that all along!

At this point the interview meanders off into other topics. But Malefane is as sharp as before. When Malema claims they've put together a legal team that will approach the courts she wants to know if they have met with the team yet (they will be doing so on Thursday and will then announce the names). Further questions on the composition of the 'legal team' by Malefane leads to answers that leads a strong impression that the existence of such a team is somewhat questionable. The legal team will among other things try and convince the court that the case should be dropped because it may divide the country. That sounds like a strange legal argument to me, if enough people disapprove do we set aside the law for an individual?

And then, just as one thinks Melefane is going to say 'thank you and good bye' she pitches the clincher to a worn-down Malema:

- but Julius what happens in case this case is not dropped?
So what does 'Julius' say. We will attack the 'forces of the dark' and kill them? No, he says: "If the case is not dropped... will go through the court, the president will appear...".

Well done Moipone Malefane! The audio file follows below:

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