The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL)responded late last night to the charges being laid against its President, Julius Sello Malema, and a member of its National Executive Committee, Floyd Shivambu. Over the weekend, the ANCYL President shored up support within the youth league at a special meeting of its national executive committee, which dutifully provided support to it’s President, and indicated that a “political issues” needed to be discussed with the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC). In an indication of the proposed mobilisation strategy to support the President, the ANCYL concluded its statement with the following:
The Special NEC re-affirmed the determination to fight tirelessly
and fearlessly for economic freedom in our lifetime, particularly
nationalisation of Mines, expropriation without compensation and provision
of free quality education for all.
The strategic intent, from within Malema’s camp, is clearly to recast the disciplinary process, as trying to silence the radical programme of economic transformation being proposed by the ANCYL. Those opposed to Malema, are suggesting that brute strength will subdue an increasingly visible and vociferous Malema. It will be an intriguing political contest, and unfortunately will have implications for how the agenda on tackling inequality will shape up. There are three major reasons why the process and outcome of the disciplinary hearing will have on matters the public policy agenda on inequality and redistribution.
First, as argued by Sipho Hlongwane, it is important for our society to keep the eye on the allegations of corruption against Malema. The evidence in the media is at best circumstantial, however even at this early stage there remains a case to answer to. There is a case building against the business practices of Malema, and it requires significant focus. Ultimately, there needs to be a process for Malema to face whatever charges he may face, which is fair to him, and will offer the South African public with an exact picture of the business dealings of an important leader in our society. Importantly, as reported by the City Press, the Hawks have confirmed a probe into the business dealings of Julius Malema.
The point is that Malema is being presented the poster child for the term “tenderpreneur”, and as such the investigation has huge symbolic significance . The outcome of any investigation will provide an insight into corruption in government, but will also provide South Africans with enough evidence to judge whether Malema is simply a crook, or whether his radical stances has made him a target.
Second, the theater of a trial provides Malema with exactly the platform he needs. It is a skill he demonstrated in shoring up support for President Jacob Zuma, in the trials he faced before becoming South Africa’s president . Jane Duncan, writing in SACSIS, interprets this skill at mobilisation as being ideologically expedient. She writes that: