via Dismiss Malema as a clown at your peril | The Zimbabwean 2 July 2014 by Tatenda Zimura
He has been called foolish, rabble-rouser, firebrand, hero and disgraced – depending on which lenses you choose to view him through. But the truth is that South Africa can dismiss Julius Malema as a clown at it’s own peril.
Events involving the former ANC Youth Leader, now Chief-in-Commander of the Economic Freedom Fighters party (EFF), have constantly revealed that Malema is not one to be easily wished away. While many are quick to dismiss his utterances as the rumblings of a bitter man, Malema’s influence cannot be underestimated.
In the May 2014 elections, a man who seemed down and out with legal cases hanging on his head like a noose, managed to convince over 1.1milllion South Africans that he is fit to lead their country. His party garnered a decent 6,35% of the total vote.
The man is a radical and speaks out of turn, yet his message seems to resonate with at least 1,1 million people here. Malema is dangerous because he is a man with a wounded ego and a point to prove after being booted out of the ANC, a party he joined at the tender age of nine. He is a man on a mission who wants history to remember him as a revolutionary, so he will stop at nothing to get his point across.
His diction and the choice of clothes he wears to Parliament speak directly to the hearts of the disfranchised and unemployed youths in South Africa’s townships. He appeals to the deep emotional side of the many who are yet to realise the economic benefits of the country’s democracy.
In Marikana, where mining workers went on strike for over four months, more than any other political party, Malema’s position was crystal clear – choosing the side of labour over capital. He has spoken of nationalisation of mines and repatriation of land, hitting the core of the economy and sending nervous laughs and vibrations across the country and across the world. He is consistent, unwavering in his beliefs and rhetoric.
South Africa is a young democracy and therefore fragile. It is a country still safeguarding its delicate democracy and anyone speaking in radical, uncompromising strong language like Malema shakes the roots and foundation of this democracy. The inflexibility of Malema’s choice of words brings fear to many in a country that has experienced how such hard-line talk from both black and white people has led to years of suffering under apartheid.
The man’s own personal story, makes him even more precarious because it relates well to ordinary black South Africa. Malema is the son of a domestic worker whose education level has not been beyond high school, yet his level of confidence would leave you believing otherwise. And because he constantly strikes rapport with the millions, they listen to him. They cling to every word he says and see him as the glimmer of hope in the darkness of unfulfilled promises and abject poverty.
He is charismatic, assertive, uncompromising, youthful and blunt and should not be dismissed as a joke because in so many ways he connects with the millions just like him.