Malema’s re­port card

Malema hits a high C

Finweek English Edition - - Openers -

POOR JULIUS MALEMA. Even for a block­head like Ja­cob Zuma’s lit­tle jerk it’s got to be em­bar­rass­ing to have your ma­tric grades splashed across the news­pa­pers. Just how wob­bly does a side ta­ble or crooked a drawer have to be be­fore you’re marked a GG for wood­work­ing – and that at stan­dard grade? Or was it be­cause Malema – at 21, the age at which he ma­tric­u­lated – just didn’t bother to do some sand­ing and var­nish­ing be­fore hand­ing in his project? Even mil­i­tant rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies have to be able to put a shine on some­thing. And at this point Malema is def­i­nitely tar­nish­ing the im­age of the Zuma project. Put an­other way, he’s mak­ing every­one else look stupid too.

A lack of tal­ent for wood­work and draw­ing straight lines may not be that cru­cial for a po­lit­i­cal leader – let’s just pray that once Malema emerges from his yoot, he’s not made min­is­ter of pub­lic works. We wouldn’t want him to sign off on any bridges or build­ings. It could be that Malema was sim­ply overex­tend­ing him­self by tak­ing seven sub­jects in­stead of the re­quired six.

That Malema isn’t aware of his own lim­i­ta­tions is abun­dantly clear. Al­though he ma­tric­u­lated in 2002, he ob­vi­ously clung to the idea of Lib­er­ayshin Be­for Edukashin long af­ter it had served its pur­pose. Even if Malema’s claim to have be­come a child sol­dier for the ANC at age nine – the rea­son he didn’t find much time for readin and writin – is true that would’ve been in 1990. Even Apla, bar­ring a church mas­sacre or two, had by that stage scaled back its ac­tiv­i­ties.

Malema’s F for ge­og­ra­phy and D for his­tory is more wor­ry­ing. Given his propen­sity for war talk and tak­ing up arms, a deeper knowl­edge of the coun­tries of the world would be vi­tal. Lest we at­tack the counter- rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies in Botswana in­stead of Zim­babwe, just like Ge­orge W Bush mis­took Iraq for Iran. And for some­one who likes to quote from Karl Marx’s 1867 man­i­festo, his bad grade in his­tory is a bit of sur­prise. Or per­haps noth­ing that has hap­pened over the past 140 years in­ter­ests the patently in­cu­ri­ous Malema. Mid­Nine­teenth cen­tury is be­ing too gen­er­ous to the man – his think­ing is more me­dieval. His H for math­e­mat­ics – stan­dard grade – is also puz­zling. One as­sumes that since writ­ing the fi­nal exam, the Marx­ist Mil­lion­aire has be­come pro­fi­cient at count­ing his piles of money. Per­haps it’s a good thing that Malema’s ad­din and sub­tractin isn’t up to scratch. The pre­vi­ous mem­bers of the Yoot’s in­vest­ment arm cer­tainly knew how to work the num­bers, given the mil­lions they were able to pocket through com­plex fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions, with among, oth­ers Brett Keb­ble.

Malema scored a C for English (sec­ond lan­guage), al­though for Afrikaans and Se­pedi it was Es. The Yoot League’s re­sponse when his ma­tric re­sults came to light was: “We are of the firm view that a leader’s ed­u­ca­tional in­tel­lect is or­gan­i­cally cul­ti­vated and linked with his prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence and in­ter­ac­tions with the or­di­nary peo­ple on a daily ba­sis.”

Given that English is Malema’s strong­est suit, he should be writ­ing the Yoot’s state­ments him­self, then it may be pos­si­ble to makes sense of it:

If the high­est ed­u­ca­tional in­tel­lect (what­ever that is) the or­di­nary peo­ple (who­ever they may be) can or­gan­i­cally cul­ti­vate (how­ever that may be achieved) in a leader is a C we have big­ger prob­lems than we thought.

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