The South African media have been awash with statements and reports about Julius Malema’s call for blacks to seize white people’s land. This is in light of an ongoing legal battle, caused by such statements he had made in the past. The court case has been postponed to 2017, but the impending legal trouble hasn’t stopped him from making more calls for his members and other black South Africans to commit violence and theft. In fact, the impending court case may be the reason for his sudden renewed rants.
Malema has become famous based on his ability to radicalise and mobilise people. As ANC Youth League leader, he was instrumental in helping Zuma’s rise to power. After being ousted from the ANC, he established the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). This radical force has risen to become a substantial political player in South Africa.
The key policy of the EFF is about seizing land. Taking advantage of a youth that feels disenfranchised and jaded, the EFF has radicalised a large following. While many have become used to their borderline racist utterings and calls for theft and genocide, Malema’s recent statements bode ill.
“When we leave here, you will see any beautiful piece of land, you like it, occupy it, it belongs to you… It is the land that was taken from us by white people by force through genocide,” he said, calling for mass land seizures similar to Zimbabwe.
He has also been reported as stating that whites do not need to be slaughtered… “yet.”
Malema’s rhetoric and the ideology he is espousing is based on a collectivist and fallacious view of history, that treats whites as unitary actors that were all culpable in racial crimes. He ignores the vast majority of innocent whites who were also victims of an authoritarian regime and a great number of individual whites who fought to end Apartheid and other systems of racial prejudice.
The truth inconveniences Malema and his narrative, so he has constructed a fiction in which all whites are responsible for racism, genocide and violence:
“They (whites) found peaceful Africans here. They killed them. They slaughtered them like animals. We are not calling for the slaughtering of white people, at least for now. What we are calling for is the peaceful occupation of the land and we don’t owe anyone an apology for that,” Malema said, as reported by Independent Online.
Peaceful occupation, backed up by forceful evictions and threats of violence, of course. Malema no doubt means that the occupation will be peaceful as long as the current owners surrender with any resistance.
Malema has tempered his statements with assurance that his ‘revolution’ will not be violent:
“You are troubled because of what you have done to us because you think we are like you. We are not like you, no white man will be driven to the sea. We… need you to see black people prospering.”
But this is no cause for calm. He is still calling for vast nationalisation that will be backed up by violence. Don’t believe the rhetoric: He is calling for a war.
It is very hard to believe that Malema is truly a socialist, but rather a socialist leader. He doesn’t believe in the humility of living like his plebeian followers. He lives like an aristocrat – benefiting from the capitalist system he decries. What his racial rhetoric may rather be in aid of is a power play.
If his legal woes do catch up to him, he needs to ensure that his followers are radicalised enough to save him or turn him into a political martyr. He may not truly believe in his classless cause, but he needs it to ensure his power and safety.
Whites are a scapegoat to empower Malema’s political empire. He needs an angry following and whites are a good punching bag to direct the mob towards.
Like any elite, Malema is planning the sustainability of his wealth and power. Unfortunately for South Africa, his power is inextricably linked to his ability to incite racial hatred. It should come as no surprise that he is calling for mass theft and violence when it is on this foundation that he rose to power.
As rational South Africa, we have to reject the rhetoric. We have to have a firm grasp of history and good policy. Mass seizing of farm land will result in famine, and a destruction of property rights will collapse the country. It cannot prosper under any sort of race if its people cannot be assured of the right to their property.
There are plenty of solutions to the land problem in South Africa. These have to be posed rationally as an alternative to the hatred of the EFF. This is crucial to maintaining peace and prosperity in this country. If we fail, it will not bode well for this country.