||04 September 2011 07:00
Esté de Klerk
|Show: ||Carte Blanche|
Tuesday was a day of chaos and, it appeared, an official declaration of war between the ruling ANC and its youth league.
Supporters of Julius Malema wreaked havoc on Johannesburg's city centre in support of their leader on day one of his disciplinary hearing at Luthuli House.
From behind razor wire, youth league members burnt ANC flags and T-shirts bearing the face of President Jacob Zuma. They threw rocks and bottles at police and bystanders.
Bongani Bingwa (Carte Blanche presenter): "Some of the officers have been pushing members of the media away, saying that we are provoking the crowd simply by being here. One doesn't quite know which way it is going to go, but the crowd is still out here in defiance."
Then they turned on journalists. Carte Blanche cameraman Dudley Saunders was hit on the head with a rock.
Bongani: "They are throwing rocks, throwing beer bottles... my cameraman has been hit, and on and on the defiance goes."
A man who claimed to be Malema's lawyer appeared with a sjambok.
Man 1: "Juju long live viva Julius Malema, viva!"
Just a few hundred metres from the rowdy protests, Malema was facing the music before an ANC disciplinary committee for bringing the ANC into disrepute and sowing divisions within the party.
Leading up to the DC, he'd tried in vain to have Derek Hanekom, Susan Shabangu and Collins Chabane removed. Malema argued that Derek Hanekom and Susan Shabangu will be biased against him because of their defence of the existing policy of nationalisation.
Bongani: "It's on the front page of almost every newspaper; it is all anybody can talk about and word is the fight is about to get ugly. Make no mistake - whoever is left standing at the end will be bloodied."
Karima Brown (Political analyst & editor): "The gloves are off; it is a war between the ANC and the youth league."
Political analyst and editor of the Southern African Report, Karima Brown says Malema may have miscalculated the political environment within the ANC - especially leading up to the party's centenary and it's elective conference in Mangaung next year.
Karima: "The ANC doesn't rush around to charge people. I mean, many people have said that the ANC is taking its time in dealing with Julius, but essentially what it does is - when you are charged, there is an acceptance in the ANC that people have lost their patience with you."
Bongani: "The ANC often describes itself as a broad church with many dissenting voices, and certainly Julius Malema will not be the first popular leader to face disciplinary charges. But he will be the first to do so twice."
In May last year Malema pleaded guilty to a charge of provoking serious divisions and breaking down of unity in the ANC... this after his comments about former President Thabo Mbeki's leadership were perceived as a criticism of President Zuma. He received a suspended sentence and it still hangs over his head.
Aubrey Matshiqi (Research Fellow: Helen Suzman Foundation): "There is a strong possibility that his membership will be suspended and therefore he will not be available, as a player, to participate in the policy and leadership battles that lie ahead. It may include expulsion from the ANC."
Political analyst and columnist Aubrey Matshiqi says it's certainly high noon.
Aubrey: "I think it is high noon for either Julius Malema or Jacob Zuma, because in my view at the end of August one man will remain standing. It will either be Jacob Zuma or Julius Malema. Charging Malema and possibly finding him guilty on those charges might solve a political problem for Gwede Mantashe and Jacob Zuma because it is an open secret that the youth league wants Jacob Zuma and Gwede Mantashe replaced in Mangaung."
And only two months ago, a confident Malema had more to say when he was re-elected President of the Young Lions at the League Johannesburg conference.
Julius Malema: "We are asking for radical policy shifts. We are turning hundred years [old], we want more action from the leadership."
Bongani: "Nelson Mandela's coming to power has helped achieve South Africa's political miracle. But 17 years later the economic reality of many hasn't changed and that is why Julius Malema's comments often strike a nerve."
But poverty and social issues are one thing - indirect criticism of ANC foreign policy quite another. Malema's public utterance about overthrowing the democratically elected government of Botswana didn't go down well.
Julius: "We are going to facilitate a consolidation of opposition parties in Botswana because, as things stand in Botswana, that puppet government is going to undermine the African agenda."
It caused an outcry - the ANC publicly rebuked the league and they withdrew the statement... but too late. The leaders announced that not only Malema, but spokesperson Floyd Shivambu and four others would be charged with ill discipline.
Karima: "They are going to try and lobby important provincial leaders of the African National Congress, other structures to demonstrate that Zuma is the paper tiger in the ANC. Pretty much what Zuma did with Mbeki when he was sacked. The key difference here is that Zuma wasn't facing a disciplinary."
Aubrey: "This is not about discipline at all; it is about interest. The possibility is that the President was not being indecisive, as some of us have suggested. He was simply giving Julius Malema a long rope to hang himself."
Bongani: "It was Julius Malema's now infamous statement that he would kill for Jacob Zuma that placed him firmly on the national stage. Now, in open defiance, his supporters are singing insults about Jacob Zuma. Where did it all go wrong?"
Fiona Forde, a freelance investigative journalist has just published a book about Malema called "An Inconvenient Youth.' She spent the last two years following him and says the ANC has perhaps given him too much freedom.
Fiona Forde (Journalist & author): "He crept onto our radars when he was 27 - way too much power, you know... didn't deserve it, didn't warrant it with the office that he held. He amassed it and I think he amassed that power within the context of an extremely weak ANC. Only a weak ANC could have indulged Julius to the extent that he was allowed to rise way beyond the station in his life."
Aubrey: "When parents send their children to go and insult the neighbours, one day those children will insult the parents. And to some extent this is what has been happening."
Fiona: "We are seeing this 30-year-old, who doesn't hold office and has absolutely no right to shape policy the way he does; he is the one pulling us by the nose, not the President of the country."
Bongani: "How much do you think Julius Malema learnt from observing Jacob Zuma when he was facing his own political troubles in terms of being able to portray himself as a victim?"
Aubrey: "I think both of them have learnt the same lesson and the lesson is that, in the current climate of the ANC, the truth doesn't matter. What matters is power and interest and, therefore, it is quite possible that the truth didn't matter prior to Polokwane, and therefore it will not matter in the months leading up to Mangaung."
Karima: "One of the people in this fight has been through the ringer; this is a heavy weight champion. This is a man who has come back from a rape trial, who has been chucked out of the executive and came to take back the party and the State. Julius is only beginning to face the kind of scrutiny in his personal and business life that Jacob Zuma has been subjected to for almost eight years non-stop. We have been in JZ's bedroom; we haven't been in Julius' yet."
Bongani: "Is this not the moment to shut him up, to deal with him once and for all?"
Fiona: "No, because I think if I was the leadership of the party I would have to weigh my options - do I want to shut him up once and for all, and do I want to kill myself in the process politically?"
Fiona is certain Malema will spill the ANC's secrets if he is expelled."
Fiona: "He knows them all and I think he has every single one of them from top to bottom - all the secrets that we don't know about."
But Malema is not only facing possible suspension or expulsion from the ANC, he's also being investigated by SARS, the Hawks and the Public Protector for alleged business deals linking him, a private engineering company and his family trust.
Fiona: "There seems to be no stop to the river of evidence that is coming down the stream of Julius Malema."
Julius: "And the youth league itself... it is the only hope to the unemployed and young people who are suffering from poverty."
But Malema will not go out without a fight. In a carefully chosen outfit, he consolidated his support among the youth league this week. But will that secure his future within an increasing insecure organisation?"
Aubrey: "The ANC will remain a political party in decline, irrespective of what happens to Jacob Zuma or to Julius Malema."
Fiona: "Can you kill everything that is going on here with this one individual? I really don't think so. Obviously we're not talking about a political death here. Malema will still be around and kicking wherever he is; he will create trouble as he always does... he is a trouble-maker."
Karima: "If the axe falls, it is going to be swift. And those who have linked themselves to Julius will have to calculate whether their links to him are going to help them in the ultimate battle that is inside the African National Congress - not outside of it."
On Friday, the ANC's national disciplinary committee dismissed a late application from Malema and his legal team to have the charges against him dropped.
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