Suspended African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema would never take the ruling party to court, he told Carte Blanche in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
“I will appeal to the NDC [national disciplinary committee] … and if I lose then I will appeal to the ANC NEC [national executive committee] … or if that fails then I will petition the ANC, which is the highest body,” Malema said in the interview which was recorded before the announcement of his suspension last week.
“I will never take the ANC to court … if the appeal fails then that will be the end of my political career.”
Malema was removed as president of the league after he was found guilty for provoking serious divisions within the ANC and bringing the party into disrepute.
He said the charges against him were “unjustified” and that he had done all he could to present a good case to the committee.
‘Killing for Zuma’
Also he was not in a contest with President Jacob Zuma adding he did not regard himself as a controversial figure.
“I don’t know what controversy means.”
His comments in recent years about “killing for Zuma” were taken out of context.
“I am not his special friend … I don’t even have Zuma’s cellphone number.”
Malema said he had no intention of becoming president of South Africa.
“That position is very complicated … even if the movement gives me a mandate to do it … let me not be disloyal to the movement … I will say this is too big for me.”
He said he always wanted to be in the ANC to help and teach people.
The contentious politician, who was recently named one the most powerful young people in Africa by Forbes, said he was fighting for mineral resources to be shared in South Africa.
“The real enemy is white monopoly capitalists … white dictatorship is what is happening today … tell me I am wrong … then I will accept.
“The gap between rich and poor is widening … it is racialised and sexist … it is only white men who are becoming richer, not even white females … that will never be allowed,” he said.
Asked if he hated white people, Malema said: “No, I never did too much … They have got a special place in our hearts. They have a contribution to make in this country.”
Filling the void
Malema will appeal his expulsion and keeps his post until the process is complete which could take a few months.
But if his career is finished, analysts say the role he played as a firebrand politician, who speaks to the country’s desperate majority, will be filled.
Malema and youth league leaders spent the weekend plotting strategy. The Sunday Independent said they were looking at a series of marches to pile pressure on his political foe, President Jacob Zuma — thought to have purged Malema to prevent a leadership challenge.
During Malema’s rapid rise to prominence, political opponents accused him of taking advantage of the poor to build political might and win financial backing.
He rose from the slums to a lavish lifestyle that attracted criticism, spending nights at parties with bikini-clad waitresses serving sushi and champagne.
His calls to take over the country’s mines and seize white-owned farm land rattled investors but also won him legions of support from the poor who envisioned him as a future leader.
Whatever the fate of the messenger, Malema’s message is still as potent as ever, said South African Institute for Race Relations researcher Catherine Schulze.
“It would be a mistake to interpret Mr Malema’s looming suspension as the end of political radicalism in the country,” she said. “If the country is not able to sustain higher levels of economic growth, new Malemas will come to the fore either inside or outside the ANC.”
There is no obvious candidate seen now as filling Malema’s shoes but the need for an advocate for the poor is great. Malema’s foes worry that future populists will also push plans such as mine nationalisation, which they fear could bring the country to financial ruin.
If Malema is sent into the political wilderness, the ANC cannot afford to grow complacent about his message. Youth unemployment is chronic and an increasingly angry underclass has launched violent protests over ANC failures to provide electricity, running water and basic schools.
ANC governments, which enjoy virtual one-party rule, have rolled out a variety of plans over the years to transfer wealth to the impoverished masses marginalised during apartheid but so far have little to show for the money spent.
Funds have been lost to corruption and mismanagement. Policies often were not properly formulated to bring about change or were watered down to appease powerful allies.
Government last week unveiled its latest plan to grow the economy and end poverty, which included labour reforms and infrastructure spending. Analysts have few hopes the plan can succeed, leaving youth unemployment stuck at about 50%.
In an ominous sign, the Institute of Race Relations said about half of the current generation of those between 25 to 34-year-old will never work in their lifetimes.
Malema said if he is forced out he expects the next youth league leader to be a conformist. The league, founded by ANC stalwarts including Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu, is seen as a breeding ground for future ANC leaders.
“The next president of the youth league … will be scared that if he also speaks in the interest of the poor and the youth he will also be suspended,” Malema told a rally last week. — Sapa, Reuters
For more news and multimedia on ANC Youth League president Julius Malema view our special report.