South Africa 4.5.2016 09:25 am

‘Bring Malema back to ANC’

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party leader Julius Malema. Photo: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party leader Julius Malema. Photo: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

“It was a big mistake. That guy is a good mobiliser and a leader by birth.”

Calls are mounting within the ruling ANC for Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema to be brought back to the ailing organisation. And the chorus of voices calling on Luthuli House to set aside Malema’s expulsion has been made louder by an ANC branch in Limpopo.

The EFF leader was expelled in 2012 for allegedly sowing division and bringing the party into disrepute. Based in Malema’s hometown of Seshego outside Polokwane, the Milo Malatjie branch also wants the ruling party to drop its treason charges against Malema.

Chairperson Boy Mamabolo confirmed yesterday his branch had, at a meeting two weeks ago, resolved that Malema should be reinstated to the ANC because he was a “good leader”. He said the branch would write a letter to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe after “engaging” Malema.

Mamabolo said the fiery leader’s reinstatement would “boost” the ANC in the upcoming local government elections and far beyond. “I know I am one of the people who celebrated his expulsion from the ANC,” Mamabolo told The Citizen.

“It was a big mistake. That guy is a good mobiliser and a leader by birth.” Asked how he would convince Malema to return to the ANC, Mamabolo replied: “I will talk to him because I am the only person he can listen to at the moment. If push comes to shove, we will talk to Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela because he has a soft spot for Mama Winnie.”

But Mantashe yesterday said the ANC could not be expected to respond to “the idea of one branch” when it had more than 4 000. “I don’t know whether that branch is in good standing because there were no elections held,” Mantashe said.

“A branch of the ANC, which is genuine, will know what to do if it has an idea.” ANC veteran and national executive committee member Ruth Bhengu recently said the expulsion of Malema from the ANC and the recall of former president Thabo Mbeki were the party’s biggest mistakes. That was because those sympathising with them ended up opposing the party.

A few weeks ago, Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa said the EFF’s growing popularity posed a threat to the ANC in the region going into the August poll. He said Malema’s expulsion was a mistake that had come back to haunt the party, as the EFF may eat into ANC votes.

Political analyst Elvis Masoga said Malema would soon return to the ruling party’s fold. “The only stumbling block for his return is President Jacob Zuma,” Masoga said.

But judging by the support Malema’s party enjoys, Masoga’s prediction is unlikely. Mamabolo said Malema’s treason charges would make him more popular. “[They] will inspire a lot more people to sympathise with him,” he said. “Malema is still young. He will go to prison, and when he comes back, take over this country.”

The ANC laid charges against Malema following his remarks on news channel Al Jazeera that his party was ready to take up arms if necessary to “change this government”. Mamabolo said Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1956 on treason charges, which made him “very” popular.

ANC Limpopo spokesperson Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said Malema was not a member of the ANC and had not applied for his expulsion to be lifted. “Those who know the ANC are familiar with the fact members join voluntarily and as individuals,” Ntshavheni said.

– ngwakom@citizen.co.za

 

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