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Julius Malema, a black man who grew up in poverty, is the first black person in decades to scare — truly scare — South Africa’s privileged and coddled white minority. Unlike Nelson Mandela and even Steve Biko before him, Malema does not restrict himself to soothing words. He has no interest in reassuring whites that they need not be afraid — they must be afraid, for only then will they be spurred to conceding their privilege. Malema is a man of action, not a man of words like Mandela.
He has been at the forefront of forcefully reacquiring plots of land for South Africa’s dispossessed poor masses from white landlords who leave their property unused or underutilized. He has stared the richest and most powerful South Africans like Christo Wiese and Johann Rupert in the face and told them, unambiguously and without hesitation, that the black majority will now have justice. Never before have white South Africans been faced with such a threat to their soft control of our society. They are desperate to stop Malema in his crusade for economic freedom.
Now the whites are mobilizing.
They have captured the African National Congress by ensuring the weak diplomatic Cyril Ramaphosa, who gave South Africa its sellout constitution, takes over the leadership. His government has already alluded to privatization and it appears that the ANC will again bend over backwards to appease foreign (white) investors. The ANC’s half-hearted motion for expropriation without compensation also added insult to injury: it is a watered-down version of the Economic Freedom Fighters’ unequivocal resolution. The ANC wants to investigate ‘whether’ the Constitution needs to be amended, and the ANC has provided white South Africa another opportunity to stop the process by reassuring them that whatever is decided, it will not upset the (white) economy, (white) investment, or threaten food security. This, while the black majority has always been food-insecure. Only the whites in South Africa have food security today. The ANC has always been a white lapdog.
The Democratic Alliance has also doubled down in its whiteness. It recently confirmed its white identity by choosing a mostly-white leadership slate at its Federal Congress. Exemplary of white arrogance and ideological imperialism, the DA also decided against quotas, opting instead to follow the Western individualist notion of ‘meritocracy’, for its leadership appointments. ‘Merit’, naturally, means white. White people in South Africa have had the benefit of better education and familial and institutional support for generations, whereas blacks are only now beginning to stand up for themselves. Naturally, then, the DA will always find ‘better’ white candidates than blacks. The whole system is skewed in favor of this state of affairs. The DA also adopted job seekers’ exemption certificates, empowering white bosses to have their black workers exempted from an already inadequate ANC minimum wage. Let’s not even mention the DA’s rejection of expropriation without compensation. They will always seek to protect whiteness and the ill-gotten gains of white conquest in Africa.
AfriForum, the racist white supremacist organization, of course, seeks to give the lethal blow to black liberation. They are targeting the single-most important living figure in black emancipation, Julius Malema, directly. Whether or not the so-called fraud charges against him are true is irrelevant: AfriForum is not seeking justice because justice exists outside of the white interests lexicon. There can be no talk of justice from AfriForum before they acknowledge that their constituency are the greatest perpetrators of injustice this continent has ever seen. Their constituency still sits on 70%+ of South Africa’s land and wealth while the black majority dies a quiet death in destitution. Whatever Malema may have done is insignificant measured against the crimes of AfriForum and its members. It is clear as daylight, regardless, that AfriForum does not seek justice, they simply seek to neutralize the biggest threat to white privilege, so that they and their members can continue reaping the rewards of exploiting black labour and ignoring black pain.
The narrative I outlined above is objectively false. It is, however, the narrative that will be accepted in South Africa around the private prosecution of Julius Malema by AfriForum’s Adv Gerrie Nel.
I have nothing but respect and admiration for AfriForum and Gerrie Nel. They have done more for accountability and participatory democracy in the last two decades than arguably any other civil society group. But this prosecution is ill-considered.
The fact that it is AfriForum, as opposed to another group that is not perceived as ‘white’, that is doing the private prosecution, will become the story. The fact that Malema may have committed crimes without being held accountable will be a secondary consideration. In other words, this will likely become about AfriForum, not Malema.
This situation will prove beneficial to everyone except AfriForum and South Africa’s level-headed majority. It is a godsend for the EFF, as it gives them a fresh box of ammunition going into next year’s election. Just when they thought they were running out of steam with the ANC stealing expropriation without compensation from them, they finally have a new bogeyman to rally against: the persecution of Julius Malema — the would-be martyr for black liberation.
Even if Malema loses the case and is sentenced to jail, his political career would only be strengthened.
Section 47(1)(e) of the Constitution disqualifies criminals from being members of the National Assembly (and thus President) for only five years after the sentence has been completed, or, worryingly, only if the sentence is more than 12 months’ imprisonment without the option of a fine. In other words, if Malema is given the option of a fine, he will not be disqualified from (continuing to be) being a Member of Parliament.
Since the ANC is making overtures to get the EFF back into the fold, it is unlikely that Malema would be treated differently than Shabir Shaik. After a few months or a year in prison, Malema would be released for some or other flimsy reason. Soon thereafter, it doesn’t take a creative imagination to see him once again going into active politics. The difference is that he will now have true struggle credentials: the whites would have put him in prison, just like Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and Robert Sobukwe. And then there will be hell to pay.
This article is not intended to say that nothing should be done about Malema’s alleged criminal enterprising. Justice, of course, must be done. But the optics of what is currently happening will defeat justice entirely. My intention is simply to warn against what is likely to come if this course of action* is pursed.
* The National Prosecuting Authority may yet relent and decide to prosecute. There is a host of problems associated with this as well, which will not be explored in this article.