Malema must stop insulting Zuma (and everybody else)
We get that Julius Malema is mad at President Jacob Zuma. We get it. It was funny at first. Well, it still is funny, but embarrassingly so. It's one of those things where we can't really stop ourselves laughing, even though we know it will only encourage him. But we can't help it – in much the same way as we look forward to watching the really bad contestants on Idols.
Allow me to share some of his gems from earlier this week, when he lashed Jacob Zuma yet again. "We need a president who respects himself and the office he occupies."
Mild so far, but he didn't stop there – he went guns blazing after the president's polygamous marriages, saying: "We can't [have] a president who gets married every weekend, it can't be [allowed]."
One has to admit that was funny. It's hard not to laugh at, but it also makes it difficult to take the person who is saying these things seriously. Malema needs to start looking at the long-term consequences of these self-inflicted word-wounds. It's like self-flagellation.
I, like many other people out there, believe that the country would be better off with a change at the top. That there are candidates who can do a much better job than the man who currently holds the presidency. Part of me believes that Zuma knows this, but can't bring himself to let go. Perhaps he sees a second term as an attempt to redeem himself and prove he's capable.
He should quit while he's ahead. Or, at least, while he's not so far behind as he might be after a second term.
But to continue to insult him at every turn is ugly – and unbecoming of someone who wishes to be a leader of the country some day.
Yes, Malema may get applause for what he says in front of an adoring crowd but it's not going to win him the friends he needs. Instead, those people who might agree with him won't want to be aligned with him. It's not because they are cowards, as he said the other day. It's because of his attitude: they don't want him within a mile of where they are.
Mind you, calling potential allies cowards isn't exactly a clever strategy either. Such statements serve only to isolate him further: "I am struggling to single out a person who is a revolutionary to the core. Except for Mama Winnie Mandela, the rest are cowards."
His attitude seems to be: If you don't agree with me, support what I say and stand next to me while I say it, then you are a coward and don't deserve to be called a revolutionary.
What if they allow him to campaign for them and then refuse to do his bidding? Again? And what makes him think that he's the sole custodian of all that is ANC?
I still think his expulsion was a mistake. He should have been sanctioned but kept on as an ANC member and of course, moulded into the shape the party wanted. But I'm afraid it may be too late to do anything about that now.
His statements will continue to grab him headlines, but they will win him few friends. He will become a fringe politician no one wants to entrust with power if he continues this way.
And if he hopes to redeem himself and be welcomed back into the party's warm embrace, he'll have to show he can and should be trusted in the future. And he will need to do it pretty damn soon. The longer you've been out in the cold, the tougher it is to come back inside.
But the more he says, the worse he makes things for himself – and the colder it gets. If he returns, his return will not be as triumphant as he imagines.
Malema must understand that there are always greater political strategies at play, and those strategies don't necessarily align with his. If he is allowed back in, for instance, the strategy may well be to stop him from shooting off his mouth. Possibly by deploying him in some government office where he will have no platform to speak and no ANC Youth League to play with.
I was hoping that after being cast out in the wilderness, he would return a wise man. Unfortunately he seems consumed by grief and anger.
And as much as I disagree with President Zuma, he simply cannot be beholden to Malema. He must be beholden to the resolutions and policies agreed to by the ANC.