Malema: In a revolution, size matters

ANCYL President Julius Malema spent much of his 90-minute address at the league’s elective conference driving home the need for land expropriation without compensation and “other economic transformation”.

“Our calls for mines to be nationalised and land to be expropriated without compensation is currently our most important issue,” he told thousands of delegates.

Ahead of the upcoming ANC Youth League elections, M&G deputy editor-in-chief Rapule Tabane looks back at the last elections and tells us what we can expect this time around.

Malema, who is assured of an easy win in the league’s presidential election, with all the provinces supporting him over contender Lebogang Maile, entered with President Jacob Zuma at his side; the two sang and danced to the president’s trademark controversial song Umshini Wam before the congress officially began three hours late at the Gallagher Estate conference centre in Midrand.

Gauteng chair Maile opened proceedings, delivering a neutral welcome, followed by an address by Malema, who delivered the “shortest political report of the ANC Youth League” as he joked at 2.25pm, when he concluded.

Malema started off the conference with a nod to the unity between him and Maile, and an off-the-cuff and firmly-worded endorsement of Zuma, slamming media reports of a rift between the two.

It has been reported that Zuma and the ANC were supporting Maile for the league’s leadership, while Malema’s statements that Thabo Mbeki was the ANC’s best president were widely interpreted as a clear sign of attack on Zuma by the once-loyal Malema.

But Malema cast the media in the role of an enemy, causing rifts between the youth league and Zuma.

“They don’t know that sitting here, these are your protectors, these are the people who delivered in Polokwane. These are the people who delivered you to [the] union buildings. And these people will forever protect you as long as you are still a leader of the ANC.

“Where were they when we were protecting you when it was not fashionable?” he said, of the media. “They were at the forefront of sponsoring an attack on your character. Even when we did not know what was in store for us at Polokwane, we were there.

“We subject ourselves to your leadership, comrade president: you have no reason to doubt that,” he said.

Both Maile and Malema quoted former ANC president Anton Lambede, on the fight for freedom. During his opening remarks, Maile had subtly pushed the need for more discipline in the organisation, as his campaign presents him as a more sophisticated alternative to the militant Malema.

In his address, however, Malema used much stronger language, assuring media and delegates that there would not be a repeat of the “ugly picture” of the league’s previous conference in Mangaung, Free State in 2008 that resulted in chair throwing and trousers being pulled down as delegates famously mooned the cameras.

“We got 600 applications from the media,” said Malema. “You know why we had 600? They say we are going to boo each other and take off our clothes, like we did at Mangaung.”

Sizing up the land issue
Malema stressed in his speech the need for a clear majority win for the ANC in the next national election in order to change the Constitution and legalise land expropriation. “In a revolution, quantity and numbers and size matters,” he said, adding mischievously: “It may not matter in other things, but in a revolution, size matters.”

Other topics covered in Malema’s address included the need for one sexual partner for young people — but he was quick to exempt Zuma from the rule, calling him an elder who was protected by the Constitution.

“But you the young ones must never compare yourselves to the elders because we are living in a high risk environment,” he said.

He also took a swipe at the ANC’s alliance partners, saying they had abdicated their role as “the vanguard of the working class” — a role the youth league must now fill, lest they be filled by those in “blue shirts” — a reference to the opposition Democratic Alliance.

“The ANC Youth League should be the voice of the petrol attendants, waiters, farm workers and cabbage carriers,” he said.

Towards the end of his address Malema slammed South Africa’s endorsement of Nato’s intervention of Libya, calling the group of western nations “blood and oil thirsty imperialist”.

“When they are done with Libya they will choose other defenceless African countries,” said Malema.

He ended with a rousing version of the song Ayesaba Amagwala, translated as ‘The cowards are scared”, which contains in its lyric the chant that landed him in the Equality Court — ‘Dubul’ ibhunu”, or ‘Kill the boer” — but replacing the offending refrain with the words “kiss the boer”.

Zuma took the podium shortly afterwards to deliver his own address.

For the latest on the ANC Youth League conference click here:

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Verashni Pillay
Verashni Pillay is the former editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian, and inaugural editor-in chief of Huffington Post South Africa. She has worked at various periods as senior reporter covering politics and general news, specialises in mediamanagement and relishes the task of putting together the right team to create compelling and principled journalism across multiple platforms.

Related stories

Political elites, not foreigners, are to blame for South Africa’s problems

What if we told foreigners to voetsek? We have fallen victim to the illusion of scarcity. And we are led to wrongly believe immigrants are a threat

Indians in South Africa, a historical excerpt

In the book, The Indian Africans, academic Kiru Naidoo explores the society of colonial Natal in the late 1800s to early 1900

A colossus with feet of clay

South Africa is disproportionately targeted by cybercriminals. Digital attacks call for digital solutions and technology is a the prime weapon in this fight

The president, the preacher and the great escape

Malawi’s new president was furious after Shepherd Bushiri’s dramatic disappearance from South Africa

‘Let ANC deal with its leaders facing corruption charges,’ Ramaphosa tells parliament

The president was answering questions before parliament, where he also told the EFF to allow the courts to decide on the matter of the CR17 bank statements

Patel: South Africa on target to attract R1.2-trillion in investments

The trade minister says the country is on track to reach more than R1-trillion worth of investments over five years, despite Covid-19 disruptions

Subscribers only

FNB dragged into bribery claims

Allegations of bribery against the bank’s chief executive, Jacques Celliers, thrown up in a separate court case

Dozens of birds and bats perish in extreme heat in...

In a single day, temperatures in northern KwaZulu-Natal climbed to a lethal 45°C, causing a mass die-off of birds and bats

More top stories

This is how the SIU catches crooks

Athandiwe Saba talked to the Special Investigating Unit’s Andy Mothibi about its caseload, including 1 000 Covid contracts

Richard Calland: Not much has shuffled in the political pack

Stocktake at the end of a momentous year shows that the ruling party holds all the cards but has little room for manoeuvre

Tighter Covid restrictions for N. Mandela Bay — other hotspots...

With the number of cases spiralling out of control in hotspots in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape, longer curfews and restrictions on alcohol sales are being implemented

Excess deaths rise, starting in Covid hotspot Eastern Cape

As the pandemic’s second wave spreads through the country, the number of excess deaths increases too

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…