By Lukhona Mnguni
0800MALEMA is the number. Don’t get left behind, make that call. It’s free of charge. Do you want an economic freedom fighter at your doorstep? Just dial and you’ll receive one in a flash. There’s no diary, first come first serve, but you will be attended to. Qualifying criteria:
1 You’re a low-end employee in your workplace.
2. You’re aggrieved with your salary.
3. You’re willing to stay away from work (an early leave for some).
Pity you, yes you, the one reading this. You probably want to kick yourself because you don’t qualify.
Typical freebies lover, take a seat.
Malema is simply available. He has no organisation to run, no department to administer, no formal commitment to research or anything of the sort. South Africans have been glued, pensively, to their TV screens and radio as the voice and images of Malema once more occupy our mainstream media. For some he’s the villain, to others he’s the necessary courageous voice. In a country found wanting on the leadership front, anything that resembles “courage” passes as credible.
Amilcar Cabral taught us well: “Tell no lies, claim no easy victories!” I was challenged and told that Malema is telling the truth. I had to accept that indeed his analysis of our leaders is true. There’s a vacuum, leadership is invisible. Citizens are saying “where art our leaders?” Malema replies on the phone “name the place and I’ll give you the time of my arrival, make sure the masses are ready for me”. He’s put up his hand as the commander-in-chief of “economic freedom in our lifetime”.
Is Malema’s truth convenient or objective? Who’s going to benefit from his truth? If Malema’s truth is objective it must be articulated with a strategic plan that has the interests of the miners at heart. But if his truth is one of convenience then we see a Malema who’s exploiting the workers and using their plight as a proxy for the Mangaung leadership contest. The situation is delicate, Malema’s playing with fire and he’s well aware of it. If you want to be noticed and “respected” in society you must toy with danger and that elevates you to a brave warrior.
There’s nothing new about what he’s saying concerning Zuma . When Malema was ready to kill us for Zuma in 2008 it was because we were saying things he is saying today. The difference is that Malema is reaching an audience many of us have not been able to reach. An audience Simphiwe Dana aptly captured as being named “The Poor”. May memory not fail me: Zuma prior to Polokwane was also the guardian/face of “The Poor” until he got his umshini into the Union Buildings. When Zuma overshadowed Mbeki during the xenophobic attacks in 2008 it was because he too was simply available. Opportunists must never have free time on their hands, they’ll always misuse it. Those among us who self-appoint themselves as the face of the poor are not genuine advocates of their conditions.
Many middle-class blacks who are usually too shy to criticise the government in the comfort of their cushioned lounges are going around praising Malema simply because he’s gutsy. Courage alone is not enough. Courage of conviction is what our society demands. What is Malema’s belief? He is a narcissist. Those who are praising Malema’s actions of holding the gold and platinum mining sectors at ransom simply do so because of their laziness to think of a vision to take this country forward.
Some want to witness a revolution in their lifetime. This may just be their opportunity to fulfil their fantasies and they fuel Malema’s efforts. Those who encourage Malema are not among the masses, the poor, where they risk having their blood spilt, where they risk losing a day’s pay, where they risk being dismissed for embarking on an illegal strike. These middle-class fellows want to fuel a struggle of the poor when they themselves are failing to lead a transformative struggle in the boardrooms by pushing for fast-tracked employment equity. They are deferring their struggle by keeping mainstream media occupied with the struggle of the poor – lazy bums, chickens the whole lot. They fear the same capitalists the poor are “rising” against. SMH.
My foresight does not allow me to get entangled only in the present without weighing its implications for the future. When Malema’s future with the ANC was in the balance in February he urged Impala Platinum miners to go back to work and negotiate from within. No revolution will be led by Malema, it will be stillborn, and that’s if it were ever conceived.
Malema’s not a leader, he was accidentally introduced to power. Yes he may detonate Zwelinzima Vavi’s ticking time-bomb and that will leave the country with much rubble. Where is Richard Mdluli when you need him to intercept the line in order to avert chaos? Do not quote me on this!
Malema has brought us to the edge of potential chaos and our leaders in government remain silent. Nothing could be worse. Fasten your seatbelts South Africans, the ANC has structurally collapsed. We need a conversation for an alternative government.
Lukhona Mnguni, UKZN student, community and development studies.