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Managing Malema

The African National Congress Youth League’s new spokesperson, Magdalene Moonsamy, appears to be everything her leader is not.

Diplomatic and articulate, she deftly turns aside criticism of Malema, saying there is no need to defend his statements, which often draw near universal condemnation, sometimes from the ANC itself.

Moonsamy says Malema is often completely misrepresented by the media, which she accuses of taking “the things he says out of context”. Well, she would have to say that, wouldn’t she, being on the ACNYL payroll.

The ruling party has to manage its youth leader carefully. He obviously resonates with the youth and others, but has, anecdotally, turned others away from the party. The disaffected seem to reason that if some of Malema’s utterances are condoned — through silence — by the ANC, then it follows that he enjoys a measure of support from Luthuli House.

President Kgalema Motlanthe was caught on the horns of this dilemma this week at a public meeting in Lenasia, and was forced to concede that the role of the party “is to take the youth by the ear and turn them around”.

“We must always bring Julius into line, all the time. Each time he says anything wrong we must pull him by the ear and bring him into line.”

“The youth must always bring a radical perspective and energy and oomph … but of course the role of the mother body [ANC] is to nurture, guide, train and develop this youth.

“When we have a youth that is energetic but erroneous … at the same time you cannot shirk your responsibility of correcting them and bringing them into line,” said Motlanthe.

This comes as Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille and Malema traded insults on the campaign trail this week, with Zille referring to him as an “inkwenkwe” [uncircumcised boy] after he had reportedly called her a “racist, colonialist and imperialist”.

But his pronouncements don’t need to be true — all they need to do is generate noise, which then feeds into the call and response of the local news cycle.

Bantu Holomisa
In and among all the pre-election insults, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa has laughed off such behaviour, describing it as “air pollution”. He says he is more concerned with matters such as clashes between political opponents, such as have happened in KwaZulu-Natal recently.
Julius Malema
Malema was again the centre of a storm this week, after comments in which he reportedly called DA leader Helen Zille a “racist” and “colonialist”, and said that DA deputy leader Joe Seremane’s “role is to smile at the madam every time”.

Most-read stories

February 19 to 25 2009

1. Why did Zuma want Niehaus?
This week’s drama around disgraced ANC spin doctor Carl Niehaus has exposed elements of an ambitious plan to boost ANC president Jacob Zuma within the party and in public.

2. Mugabe’s daughter in eye of student storm
Calls in Harare for the deportation of President Robert Mugabe’s daughter from Hong Kong, where she is studying for a university degree, have turned violent.

3. Malema ‘wet behind the ears’, says Zille
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille stands by her remark made on Sunday that Julius Malema is an “inkwenkwe”, which refers to an uncircumcised boy.

4. Bishop elbows aside Lekota, Shilowa
Bishop Mvume Dandala is expected to be named as the face of the Congress of the People (Cope) on Friday after weeks of speculation about the presidential candidate of the party.

5. Talking straight with Motlanthe
President Kgalema Motlanthe speaks to Ebrahim Harvey on the recent media splurges about his personal life, his future role in the ANC, polygamy and the party’s take on Carl Niehaus.

6. Mbeki’s burden will be Zuma’s too
With the baton now in Msholozi’s hand, the time for Umshini’wam is over.

7. Zille urges Zuma to step down
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille has called on her African National Congress (ANC) counterpart Jacob Zuma to step down as his party’s presidential candidate in the coming elections.

8. Where will SA be in 2025?
Possibly one of the finest public documents yet published, the 2025 Scenarios paint three states of our nation in 16 years.

9. ANC: ‘We’ll take Julius by the ear and bring him into line’
The African National Congress will always be there to take the “youth by the ear” and bring them into line when they are wrong, president Kgalema Motlanthe said on Tuesday.

10. With friends like these …
I despise Facebook. This hugely successful American business describes itself as “a social utility that connects you with the people around you”.

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