We’ve lately taken to calling EFF leader Julius Malema the unofficial spokesperson of the ANC. On Monday night, he knew precise details of exactly why President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet reshuffle announcement was delayed, and he also knew exactly who was being fired, hired and moved to new departments.
He was also very pleased with himself, tweeting “What’s my name?” once the list was announced.
South Africa has simply taken it as a given that Juju Just Knows. Aside from the fact that Malema – along with the whole of the EFF – is pretty good on Twitter, all of this political gossip, intrigue and insight has gone a long way towards making the so-called Commander in Chief South Africa’s most followed politician on Twitter (he’s on 1.85 million as I write this).
He knows a lot of serious stuff and has, as far as I know, never been sued for some of the more salacious details about ANC insider politics that he’s shared.
Last year, Malema appeared to know that Ramaphosa was elected to the ANC presidency before even Jacob Zuma had a hint of it.
But Malema is not psychic. Nor has he been able to bug Luthuli House or Mahlamba Ndlopfu to spy on all the goings-on there. Someone with close access to all the machinations and decisions at the heart of power in the ANC is simply telling Malema everything that he, and all of us, want to know.
I tried to search for current speculation in the media on who exactly “Malema’s Mole” might be. But there’s been very little interest in figuring it out. There appears to be a wholesale acceptance that Malema simply has his old networks in the party, that it’s probably down to more than one person, and he has kept in touch with all of them.
But that doesn’t make sense. The biggest giveaway has to have been during the week in which the ANC’s top six officials were negotiating with Zuma to try to get him to step down voluntarily. Malema was tweeting information about those meetings that turned out to be completely accurate.
That should have told us he was being fed updates by someone in the top six itself.
A process of simple elimination can then be done:
- It’s unlikely that Gwede Mantashe would be sending WhatsApps to Malema.
- It’s even more improbable that Ace Magashule or Jessie Duarte could be chummy with the one man who has done the most to insult their former president, a leader they always resolutely defended.
- The stormy relationship between Malema and Ramaphosa, who took the final decision to expel the young firebrand and his other ANC Youth League comrades from the ANC, must surely also exclude the ANC president, and there are other reasons to find the idea of Ramaphosa feeding insider info to Malema absurd.
- The wily cat David Mabuza surely also isn’t a Malema confidant.
That leaves only ANC treasurer Paul Mashatile. He ticks all the boxes, if you think about it.
Mashatile was among Zuma’s biggest and most outspoken critics inside the ANC during both Zuma’s terms. The ANC in Gauteng was always resolutely against Zuma’s leadership and Mashatile did nothing to hide his part in that. He personally also agrees with fundamental EFF demands, such as land expropriation without compensation.
It’s an open secret that the ANC’s Gauteng leaders are the go-to guys whenever negotiations with the EFF need to be conducted, openly or in private.
Naturally, I can’t prove this, but to me it’s bloody obvious that what happens in the ANC goes from Mashatile’s eyes and ears to Malema’s lips.
I was then quietly wondering whether Ramaphosa would have a word with Mashatile to ask him to stop feeding “the opposition” all these empowering tidbits.
But maybe the president is okay with it. If so, why? As far as I can fathom, it must have everything to do with the long-term plan of having Malema return to the ANC fold in one way or the other. He and other EFF leaders have always made it abundantly clear that their primary bone of contention with the ANC was not the party itself or what it stands for; it was merely the presence and leadership of Zuma, which they referred to derogatorily as “ZANC”.
Malema has often said that as long as the ANC is willing to go along with major ideological policy shifts such as land expropriation without compensation, then the EFF would be quite willing to cede its support to the ANC. That happened yesterday in parliament, and Mashatile was on hand afterwards to give an interview about how pleased he was about it.
The EFF is already making strong moves now to divorce itself from its uncomfortable bed partner the DA and get in the sack with the ANC. The Red Overalls will soon be bringing a motion of no confidence against Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip, in the clear hope that they can hand that old ANC stronghold back to the ANC, although to do so they will need a little help from smaller parties.
After that, simply transferring Tshwane and Johannesburg back to its former rulers will be a piece of cake.
There will possibly be rich rewards for Malema if he can offer up such a great bounty to his old friends.
Much can still happen to scupper some sort of well-orchestrated return of the prodigal son to the ANC – but the fact that the umbilical cord between Malema and the ANC was never really cut should be the clearest sign anyone needs that the EFF may turn out to be more of a “hopposition”, and they could be “hopping back home” sooner than we think.