Speaking at an EFF business gala dinner in Meropa Casino in Limpopo on Saturday night, Malema told the gathering that his weight loss had absolutely nothing to do with illness.
In fact, he said, he was feeling healthier and more energetic than ever. He even joked that he was still as good in bed .
His words came in the wake of speculation in some circles that his rapid weight loss could not be normal and that he possibly had HIV/Aids or diabetes. His rebuttal was a challenge to the African stereotype that being overweight is a sign of wealth, health and success.
He told the gathering: “I am not sick. I am just looking after myself. I can take any test publicly anywhere, from Aids to sugar diabetes. There is no problem. Even the manhood is still working.”
Malema said he had stopped drinking alcohol, taking sugar and had cut down on the pap.
Last week, he opened up to popular DJ Gareth Cliff, telling him that the main reason he he had been losing weight was because former president Nelson Mandela once told him he could not be an overweight youth leader.
Cliff had asked him whether the fact that his weight loss was making headlines was something that annoyed him.
Malema replied: “I don’t get annoyed because it comes with public life. You must know you are going to be critiqued. People will look at what you wear, at how you walk, how you speak; if you gain weight, if you lose weight.
“They were talking when I was big, they are talking now that I’m losing weight. It’s good. We don’t need an obese society. Losing weight is a good thing because we need to inspire our society. We don’t need an obese society and we in leadership positions should try by all means to live a healthy lifestyle to inspire a younger generation. It’s not good to create the impression that obesity is a fashionable thing. It comes with a lot of health risks.”
He explained that “I had an opportunity to eat lunch with Madiba one day, and JZ [Jacob Zuma] was there, and [Fikile] Mbalula and JZ’s daughter Dudu was there”. He later added Mandla Mandela was also present.
“And then Madiba asked them to leave the dining room … and Zuma was very happy that Madiba was going to lash me and call me to order. And Madiba said to me: ‘If you want to lead our youth and society, you’re going to have to lose some weight. You can’t lead our people looking like this.’
“That was one [bit of] advice I had to adhere to.”
He said his wife was “very supportive” and had helped him to “live according to an acceptable way. I took it from Madiba himself, who was very obsessed with a healthy lifestyle and gym and exercising, and a youth leadership looking very well.”