Only in the schizophrenic political oddity that is South Africa can you encounter the spectacle of EFF president Julius Malema delivering the keynote address to the SA Property Owners’ Association (Sapoa) Convention and asking the people gathered there for money.
He said he needs their money to keep fighting their supposed common enemy, President Jacob Zuma and his government.
Sapoa, according to its website, is the representative body of the commercial and industrial property industry in South Africa and has been around since 1966. It focuses on property investors and claims to have a combined portfolio in excess of R500 billion.
Sapoa members are said to control about 90% of all commercial and industrial property in South Africa. They are a powerful group, and in many ways they represent the established elite that rabble rousers like Malema have been preaching against for years.
Everything about these people should be anathema to Malema and his party, because the clearly stated policies of the EFF place it on an inevitable collision course with the owners of land and property in South Africa.
Let’s not forget this is the same EFF that declares in its manifesto that all land in South Africa needs to be expropriated and placed in the care of the state. Unless the EFF has changed its policies recently, it is against the private ownership of land, and private land is the thing commercial and industrial properties get built on.
Malema told Sapoa that he wanted them to support the EFF’s anti-corruption crusade. He then moaned that the EFF has had to wage expensive legal battles against state corruption with money they don’t have. “You have all the money,” he said, while accusing them of waging their bourgeois protests on social media in the comfort of air-conditioned offices (a fair enough critique that he earned some applause for).
Perhaps Malema deserves praise for putting his pride in his pocket and showing the courage to not only approach these capitalists he’s always been so outspoken against to ask them for money, while also criticising them to their faces for what he considers their failings, at their own gathering no less.
No one’s ever said the man doesn’t have balls. But still, it’s weird. He went as far as to tell these rich captains of industry to “invest” in the EFF.
But people invest in things they hope will ultimately deliver a great return for them. If a property owner chooses to “invest” in the EFF, what future return is he or she actually going to get?
Sure, in the short term, the EFF may be able to more easily fund its ongoing battles against the parasitic Zuma regime – but in the long run, according to the party itself, land owners stand to lose their land and have it administered by the EFF, who may lease it back to them if they feel they are worthy enough.
Malema’s main argument today seemed to be that the short term is more important than such long-term plans.
He told the property moguls they stand to lose the most from Zuma’s collapse of the state, and he’s probably right.
At the rate the economy is going, there won’t be much of a country left for Malema to expropriate when he finally becomes president.
But becoming Malema’s ally if you’re a rich property owner is still a little like joining forces with someone to fight off a burglar, only for your ally to then turn around and murder you.
I once told a colleague how the “good news and the bad news” in South Africa were both kind of depressing.
“How so?” he asked.
“Well, the good news is we have a fearless champion of the constitution who’s not afraid to speak truth to power and stand resolute against corruption.”
“Yeah, and the bad news?”
“Well, the bad news is it’s Julius Malema.”
He had a laugh, but it’s difficult to escape the fact that this is the same Malema who was once so often accused of being perfectly comfortable with corruption when he was in the ANC himself.
Malema was at least generous enough in his speech today to mention the work of other opposition parties and NGOs fighting legal and other battles against state capture and corruption, who also deserve our support.
But go ahead all you property owners and donate to the EFF if you feel there are no other viable alternatives. Because your enemy’s enemy is your friend, right?