In a recent interview with Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, Julius Malema averred that he knew the elections in Johannesburg in 2014 were rigged. He promised further that if the ANC insists upon interfering in the electoral process, he and his party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), would not hesitate to remove the government by the “barrel of the gun”.
If AfriForum or Solidariteit had uttered such threats they would have been condemned, arrested and investigated forthwith. The ANC, rightly, complained about his utterances and threatened to investigate them, but they seem rather pusillanimous about taking him on.
“We know for a fact that they lost Johannesburg and they lost Gauteng,” Malema said, “But we still accepted it. But they must know we are not going to do that this year. We are not going to accept. Part of the revolutionary duty is to fight and we are not ashamed if the need arises for us to take up arms and fight.”
If these allegations are true, why did he not lodge a formal complaint against the ANC with the Electoral Commission? Why does he say the EFF accepted the rigging then, but will not do so in future? What is at stake with these accusations is the threat to take up arms, and secondly, to claim the elections were rigged in Gauteng.
The latter is a serious allegation. If it is not true, then sue Malema. Secondly, threatening to take up arms against the state, in my view, is seditious talk, defined as “revolt or an incitement to revolt against established authority, usually in the form of treason or defamation against government”.
I know I am treading dangerous ground constitutionally, but a volatile and excitable juvenile population does not need further inspiration to ignite an undisciplined mass revolt. Whether or not we like President Jacob Zuma, the majority party, the ANC, appointed him by democratic vote. If we want a change of government, the constitution demands that political parties challenge their opponents through the democratic electoral process.
Malema’s other accusation that the army was sent into the township of Alexandra, to suppress protests about the “rigged vote”, is equally serious. Surely the EFF should have reported this. To haul out these accusations just confirms to foreign investors that SA is volatile, prone to violence and unreliable.
Malema is really blessed with natural intelligence and that he chose to study further to enhance his leadership capabilities is admirable. But people are losing patience with him. His reckless behaviour plays into the hands of the ANC, who is increasingly garnering enough ammunition against him to cripple him at the knees.
Having just graduated with a BA degree in political leadership and citizenship, celebrated across the racial and political spectrum for setting an example to SA’s youth, Malema’s constant blustering and egotistical behaviour are the antithesis of political leadership and good citizenship.
His erratic behaviour questions what he has learnt at Unisa. His competitive war talk with colleagues Ndlozi and Shivambu, equally blessed with above average intelligence, is like a stuck record and needs to be reined in.
Emboldened by his popularity or should one say, notoriety, Malema every so often crosses the line. Worse, he gets airtime for it, locally and globally. I’m afraid, with the EFF leader “treason is very much a matter of habit”, to quote John le Carrè. It’s time to call his bluff.