Face-off with the ‘old Julius’

CityPress - - Voices -

When Julius Malema was ANC Youth League pres­i­dent he was prone to dan­ger­ous rhetoric that strayed far out­side the bounds of ci­vil­ity. He was brash, abu­sive and in­sult­ing.

No mat­ter how much South Africans tried to get used to his wil­ful be­hav­iour, he would al­ways find new ways to shock the na­tion. In­stead of rein­ing him in, the ANC lead­er­ship made ex­cuses for Malema, say­ing he was a young leader who was still de­vel­op­ing. What ev­ery­one knew then was that he could not be con­tained be­cause he was the bat­ter­ing ram for more se­nior lead­ers.

But Malema is no longer just a leader of a youth wing of a political party. He is now the fully fledged head of a ma­jor, fast-grow­ing party. He is taken very se­ri­ously by South Africans and for­eign­ers alike. His growth in stature is as much a re­sult of the im­pact the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters (EFF) has had on political de­vel­op­ments as it is a fruit of his own political ma­tu­rity.

But from time to time, Malema fails to sup­press his old self, and has been in “old Julius” mode of late. A few weeks back, he told black peo­ple to pro­duce more ba­bies so that they never lose their ma­jor­ity sta­tus. This, in a so­ci­ety in which des­per­ate moth­ers aban­don ba­bies and mil­lions of chil­dren are de­pen­dent on so­cial grants for their ba­sic sur­vival.

Then last week he upped the ante by threat­en­ing armed in­sur­rec­tion if the ANC tried to steal elec­tions. The state­ment may not have been trea­sonous, as the ANC ar­gues, but it was reck­less and dan­ger­ous. In this con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy where the EFF, other op­po­si­tion par­ties, in­di­vid­u­als and civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions have won vic­to­ries us­ing con­sti­tu­tional av­enues, there is no rea­son to be threat­en­ing vi­o­lence. The war threat is made worse by the fact that we are al­ready in a highly charged pre-elec­tion environment.

So to Malema: Keep the old Julius locked away.

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