Julius Malema may have been expelled from the ANC, but that hasn't dented his ambitions, or stopped him from telling press conferences about them.
At the Gordon Institute of Business Science in Johannesburg on Monday, Malema told a press conference: “Listen carefully, so that you have this in your archives. I will lead the ANC in the future.”
Malema promised he would do “whatever it takes” to be president of the ANC – and, by extension, South Africa.
But a few minutes later he backtracked somewhat, perhaps realising that he’d gotten a bit carried away, saying that perhaps he’d prefer to just be a leader of the ANC, not the leader.
Regardless of his ultimate ambition, it’s clear that even though the ANC has given up on Malema, Malema hasn’t given up on the ANC.
He certainly hasn’t given up on holding press conferences.
The briefing began as a condemnation of the heavy-handed, politically motivated unfairness with which he felt he had been treated, but soon went on to cover other matters, including what the government should do with former police spy boss Richard Mdluli (“Ask him nicely to resign and make him an ambassador. To Somalia, maybe.”).
Flanked by fellow ANC exiles Floyd Shivambu and Sindiso Magaqa, Malema repeated the trio’s claims of political persecution, claiming again that they had been unfairly singled out for representing the entire youth league.
“We were expelled for articulating positions of the ANCYL that were taken at the 2011 elective conference,” Malema said. But “we remain loyal to the ANC and know they are the only party that is capable of bringing about real economic change”.
Saying he would continue to address rallies and gatherings in continuing the fight for economic freedom, Malema added that he had the full blessing of the youth league to speak at the briefing, and remained in his position at the behest of the league’s membership.
On the tax issues he is reported to be dealing with, Malema said it wasn’t something that was keeping him awake at night: “I am a private citizen and if there is an enquiry I will deal with that.”
He also denied being involved in any tender fraud, or accepting money from Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale (although he said he wouldn’t turn down financial assistance from Sexwale, as his money was “clean”).
But no matter where his money comes from (or his car – Malema admitted he’d had to give his Range Rover back to the party, and was driving a car borrowed from a friend and supporter) he said that the trio would not give up their efforts to have their exile from the party ended.
“When you take up a battle, especially against the political establishment, you must be ready for consequences. But we will never give up. It is not the ANC who did this to us. It is individuals inside the ANC.”
But he swore he and his fellow former leaders would return to the fold, regardless of these individuals’s efforts. “We will do whatever it take stop win this political battle. We have two options: Submit or fight. And we are going to fight.”