Malema: Presidency of controversy
African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema rose to the ANCYL presidency in 2008. The Mail & Guardian tracks his journey.
April 7 2008
Malema is elected as youth league president ahead of Saki Mofokeng at the league’s chaotic conference in Bloemfontein. Rumours of vote rigging abounded as the conference ran a day over its scheduled end.
June 16 2008
Malema says the league will take up arms and “kill” for African National Congress president Jacob Zuma at a youth day rally at Thaba ‘Nchu in the Free State.
Opposition parties slam Malema’s comments—labelling them as hate speech—and the ANC distances itself from the remarks.
July 24 2008
Malema says Zuma will lead the country from prison if he was arrested following a legal battle with the National Prosecuting Authority regarding his indictment on charges that included allegations of racketeering, corruption, money laundering and fraud.
September 10 2008
Malema vows to “eliminate any force” blocking Zuma’s path to the presidency. He says the “Malema generation” would be responsible for making Zuma president of the country, regardless of corruption charges levelled at him. “Any force in our way we will eliminate. We are on a mission here. We will crush you. It doesn’t matter who you are, even if you are in the ANC,” he was quoted as saying.
September 21 2008
President Thabo Mbeki resigns after a damning judgement by Pietermaritzburg high court judge Chris Nicholson, which scrapped corruption charges against Zuma. The judge further intimating that the former president interfered in the case against his former deputy. Malema actively campaigned for his resignation referring on many occasions to Mbeki as a “dead snake” whom the ANC would soon bury.
January 23 2009
Malema suggests the woman who accused Zuma of rape had a “nice time” in an address to Cape Peninsula University of Technology students. “When a woman didn’t enjoy it, she leaves early in the morning. Those who had a nice time will wait until the sun comes out, request breakfast and ask for taxi money,” said Malema. Zuma was acquitted of rape charges brought against him by an HIV-positive woman, known as “Khwezi”, in 2006.
January 30 2009
He turns down a nomination to Parliament after being submitted as a candidate by ANC branches, saying “it’s only for old people”. Malema said he may reconsider a position in Parliament in 10 or 15 years.
February 11 2009
Malema criticises Education Minister Naledi Pandor for not taking action to resolve a salary dispute at the Tshwane University of Technology. He suggests the London-educated minister should “use her fake American accent to address our problems”.
February 23 2009
Malema turns down a challenge to publicly debate his Democratic Alliance counterpart Khume Ramulifho, saying he won’t debate with “Helen Zille’s garden boys”. The challenge came after he said former DA federal leader Joe Seremane’s role in the party was “to smile at the madam”.
May 1 2009
Calls DA leader Helen Zille “a racist little girl” and cautions her that as the new Western Cape premier she would be reporting to “President Zuma”.
July 2 2009
He issues his first call for South Africa’s mines to be nationalised, saying imperialist forces needed to accept “the failures of capitalism” and prepare for “the state to own the mines and other means of production as called for in the Freedom Charter”.
August 6 2009
He lambastes Zuma’s Cabinet appointments in the economics cluster, saying “We [black people] cannot just be reduced to security and the very important issue of economy is given to minorities.”
August 22 2009
Malema wades into the furore surrounding athlete Caster Semenya’s gender testing and calls on the government to prevent the tests from being carried out. “The International Amateur Athletic Federation decision to test Semenya is racist and sexist and we must not allow them to do it,” he said.
October 10 2009
Malema slams the prosecution of police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi, saying he was targeted “because he was black”. “In Jackie Selebi they want to prove a point they failed to prove in Zuma: that we [Africans] are corrupt, we like easy money, we like alcohol, we like women and we’ve got no skill,” he said.
November 1 2009
Malema is alleged to have taken traffic officers in Limpopo to task after they stopped him for allegedly speeding in his Range Rover. Malema apparently asked the officers: “Who do you think you are? Are you not aware that I am Julius, the president of the youth league? I know that some of you hate me.”
November 7 2009
Malema is granted around-the-clock VIP protection by the ministry of police after they conducted a report revealing that his life could be in danger. Opposition parties and civil rights groups slammed the move as an abuse of state resources.
December 13 2009
Malema labels members of the South African Communist Party (SACP) as “greedy yellow communists” after the national executive committee member Billy Masetlha were booed at a recent SACP conference in Polokwane.
January 11 2010
He slams former president FW De Klerk as a product of apartheid, who was forced to release Nelson Mandela from prison. Addressing a crowd of several thousand at Drakenstein Prison, Malema said De Klerk left a legacy of “racism, unemployment and housing problems”.
February 1 2010
He makes clear his intention to have ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe replaced by former league president Fikile Mbalula after a three day lekgotla in Muldersdrift.
February 11 2010
Malema said former president Nelson Mandela supported nationalisation, both before and after he went to prison. “We stand opposed to any peace-time heroes who want to oppose nationalisation as not being a policy of the ANC. Madiba himself is better placed to give a proper interpretation of the Freedom Charter, because Madiba was in the forefront as a volunteer-in-chief,” Malema said.
March 8 2010
Allegations arise that Malema may have benefited from tenders in his home province of Limpopo. He is proved to be a director at SGL Engineering Projects, which secured government contracts worth R140-million between 2007 and 2009. It is also alleged Malema may not be up to date with his taxes, with opposition parties calling on the South African Revenue Services to investigate him.
March 15 2010
Malema is convicted of hate speech following his comments made about the woman who accused Zuma of rape. The Equality Court orders Malema to make an unconditional apology and pay R50 000. He appeals the ruling. On the same day, Afriforum lays another hate speech complaint against Malema at the Equality Court for singing Ayesaba amaGwala which contains the words dubul’ ibhunu (“kill the boer”). Malema vows to continue singing the song.
March 18 2010
Malema pays a visit to Molemo “Jub-Jub” Maarohanye in prison on the eve of the hip-hop artist’s court appearance for the murder of four schoolboys after a drag racing incident in Soweto.
March 26 2010
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela announces a probe into tenders awarded to Malema’s SGL Engineering Projects after complaints by AfriForum Youth and the Congress of the People (Cope).
April 2 2010
Embarks on a visit to Zimbabwe where he endorses President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and lauds the country’s controversial land grab process.
April 8 2010
ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema kicks a BBC journalist Jonah Fisher out of a press conference in Luthuli House, calling him “a bastard and a bloody agent”.
April 18 2010
ANC orders him to appear before a disciplinary committee following:
- Criticising President Zuma while drawing a comparison between the leadership of Zuma and former president Thabo Mbeki
- Controversially pronouncing support for the Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe
- His public altercation with BBC journalist Fisher; and
- His continued singing of the Ayesaba amaGwala despite an ANC order not to do so, following the death of white supremacist Eugene Terre’blanche.
May 11 2010
Malema escapes serious sanction at his disciplinary hearing with a suspended sentence, a R10 000 fine and an order to attend anger management classes as well as publicly apologise to Zuma. Malema is warned he faces suspension or even possible expulsion from the ANC should he transgress again.
July 19 2010
Malema mounts a campaign to purge the league of his opponents ahead of the league’s conference in June 2011 beginning with former Limpopo chairperson, Lehlogonolo Masoga.
September 20 2010
Earns a rebuke from Zuma at the ANC’s national general council policy meeting for his calls to nationalise mines and for suggesting he would not support the president at the ANC’s Mangaung conference in 2012. Malema still succeeds to have the issue of nationalise placed up for review by ANC top brass ahead of Mangaung.
December 2 2010
Refuses to pay the R50 000 fine imposed on him by the Equality Court after losing a case brought against him by the Sonke Gender Justice Network for the comments he made about Zuma’s rape accuser.
April 7 2011
Calls on citizens to vote for the ANC in the local government elections so that it will “keep Mandela alive and well”.
“President Mandela is sick and you don’t want to contribute to a worsening condition of Mandela by not voting ANC. President Mandela will never endure if the ANC is out of power,” he said. The comments come after Mandela fell seriously ill in January.
April 10 2011
Malema arrived at his hate-speech hearing protected by at least five armed bodyguards toting M14 assault rifles. “It’s none of your business who is paying for it, but it is not government,” spokesperson Floyd Shivambu said when asked about the guards.
May 20 2011
Dubs DA spokesperson Lindiwe Mazibuko a “tea girl” after refusing to debate with her in a live television broadcast following the announcement of local government election results.
June 16 2011
Malema is re-elected unopposed for a second term.
July 6 2011
He labels the United States a “blood thirsty imperialist” for bombing Libya with its Nato allies and lambastes the South African government for voting in favour of a United Nations resolution for a no-fly zone over the North African country.
July 19 2011
He is reported to be building a R16m mansion on the site of his now demolished Sandown home. He refuted the allegations, saying the reports were “not factual” but if they were, it would “be nobody’s business”.
July 24 2011
A report by City Press reveals Malema allegedly receives funds funnelled through the “Ratanang Family Trust” from unscrupulous businessmen for securing tenders in Limpopo. Malema goes to ground, with the ANCYL slamming the reports and saying the fund is used solely for charitable purposes. Following the reports, AfriForum lays graft charges against Malema at the Brooklyn police station in Pretoria.
July 31 2011
The league issues a statement saying that it would work in tandem with opposition parties in Botswana to unseat President Ian Khama’s Botswana Democratic Party which they labelled a “footstool of imperialism”.
August 18 2011
After weeks of verbal volleying, the ANC announces it will bring disciplinary charges against Malema and his spokesperson Floyd Shivambu for violating the party’s constitution and sowing divisions within the organisation. This is followed by the Hawks announcing it had launched a formal investigation into Malema’s business dealings along with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.
August 30 2011
Malema’s supporters clash with police and journalists on the first day of the youth leader’s hearing. Several journalists and police are injured as they are pelted with stones and bottles. ANC flags and T-shirts bearing the image of President Jacob Zuma are also burnt by the protesters. The ANC condemns the violence and moves the hearing from Luthuli House.
September 21 2011
Malema’s disciplinary hearing is once again postponed. On the same day, legal representatives of Malema and the ANC head back to the equality court to challenge the order banning the singing of dubul’ ibhunu as too broad.
October 5 2011
Malema is admitted to hospital in Polokwane with “flu-like symptoms” on the eve of the resumption of his disciplinary hearing . The ANC accepts his absence and schedules the hearing to be resumed later in October.
October 19 2011
Malema is quoted as using a racial slur in reference to South Africans of Indian descent when addressing a gathering in Thembelihle south of Johannesburg. He sticks to his statement but apologises for any misunderstanding and offence caused.
October 27 2011
Malema leads a “march for economic freedom” from Johannesburg to Pretoria. About 5000 protesters stop at the Chamber of Mines and Johannesburg Stock Exchange on their way to Pretoria, demanding nationalisation of the mining and banking sectors. The marchers’ final stop is the Union Buildings, where a memorandum of demands for widespread changes to the economy is handed over. While the march is hailed by the youth league as a success that struck a blow against capitalism, it is widely regarded as little more than a public relations exercise reinforcing Malema’s support.
The Sunday Independent reports Malema faces imminent arrest for alleged involvement in corruption related to the awarding of tenders in Limpopo.
October 31 2011
Reports emerge Malema jetted off to Mauritius after the youth league’s economic freedom march. He allegedly swilled expensive champagne and partied with several benefactors of tenders in Limpopo province.
November 7 2011
After several postponements, closing arguments in Malema’s disciplinary hearing are delivered during late night meetings in Johannesburg.
November 9 2011
The ANC announces it will reveal the outcome of Malema’s disciplinary hearing at a press conference to be held at Luthuli House in Johannesburg. The youth league confirms Malema will be not be present at the announcement.
November 10 2011
Malema and several youth league leaders are suspended from the ANC for a period of five years after being found guilty of undermining party leadership and sowing division in party ranks for his criticism of President Jacob Zuma. He is also guilty of bringing the party into disrepute by recklessly denouncing the Botswanan government, in conflict with ANC policies. He is found not guilty on separate charges of inciting hatred and racism. Malema acts with immediate vitriol stating he will “fight the enemy until the end”.
November 16 2011
Malema tears into the ANC NDC by announcing the youth league’s decision to appeal their leaders’ suspension. He labels the NDC’s findings as “unfounded” and calls for a political solution to the melee. He again reiterates the suspensions are politically motivated in an attempt to silence the league.
November 24 2011
Malema meets the midnight deadline to appeal his suspension.
November 27 2011
According to a report in the Sunday Times Malema says he “finished politically” and intends moving into the cattle farming industry in Limpopo. He again refers to his suspension being politically motivated and that the NDC had a “predetermined” outcome.
Malema is handed a political lifeline by being voted onto the Limpopo ANC’s provincial working committee.
January 8 2012
Malema quietly sits on stage and listens to Zuma’s speech at the ANC centenary celebrations, while his supporters chant “Juju! Juju!” before and during the address. ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete is forced to call them to order on several occasions and eventually threatens to have them removed unless they compose themselves. Malema supports follow this up with a mini-walkout as Zuma is talking. After the speech, Malema is pictured laughing and joking with former President Thabo Mbeki. While Malema was told he would not be allowed to make a speech at the centenary celebrations, he held a rally just outside Mangaung.
January 24 2012
The appeal hearing into the NDC’s decision to suspend Malema and co is held amid a media blackout at Luthuli House in Johannesburg.
February 4 2012
The decision to suspend Malema and other youth league members is upheld. The ANC’s NDCA chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa describes the league’s argument the case is politically motivated as “nave”. The NDCA does however offer the league an opportunity to argue in mitigation of sentence—a privilege also be offered to the ANC. The NDC must reconvene within two weeks to hear the arguments.
February 10 2012
Malema continues his verbal assault on Zuma and other senior ANC leaders at the league’s annual lekgotla in Centurion. Without referring specifically to Zuma, Malema said: “We need more decisive and sophisticated leadership to understand the current phase of our struggle.” He also called on the ANC to choose a leadership that is capable of putting the interests of the nation before their own.
February 13 2012
Malema’s arguments for aggravating circumstances in mitigation of sentence begin at Luthuli House in Johannesburg. After an outcry over only being granted two hours per respondent to argue their case, the process is adjourned until February 16.
February 29 2012
Malema is expelled from the ANC for portraying the its government and its leadership under President Jacob Zuma in “a negative light”, and for statements on regime change in Botswana, at a press conference on July 31 2011. He has been given 14 days to appeal his sentence.
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