Dear Julius Malema,
I wronged people in this country two decades ago when I took part in heinous crimes. I have been trying to repay my debt to society for most of the years since. First, by successfully exposing corruption in jail then by speaking to millions of school kids across this country to dissuade them from a life of crime. I am now dedicating my life to the Patriotic Alliance, which puts ending gangsterism – but more importantly, the conditions that lead to gangsterism in communities – at the top of its agenda. We must get our young people into the mainstream economy.
I see this open letter as part of repaying my many debts to society. If I did not speak up to warn the people of South Africa, but especially our youth, against you, it would mean I have no love for this country.
Julius, you and I are not "revolutionaries". We both know that. We both shop at the same Louis Vuitton and Gucci shops. We both have watches worth hundreds of thousands. We wear more money on our wrists than a miner at Marikana will ever hold in his hands. This week you had the audacity to say that you wear Louis Vuitton to "inspire" the poor. But the poor get nothing out of you wearing flashy clothes.
For people like us to call ourselves revolutionaries is an insult to history's real revolutionaries. Patrice Lumumba is rolling in his grave. Thomas Sankara wants to get out of his grave and take back his words that have found their way onto your whisky-swilling tongue. If simply wearing a beret makes you a revolutionary, then my mum and all her friends have been revolutionaries for far longer than you.
You have spent more money at any of your own lavish parties than Kenny Kunene ever did. But Kenny never spent public money. It was his own money that he worked for openly. He never earned his money through misdirected tenders to shady companies that were hard to track. You bankrupted the ANC Youth League. You bankrupted Limpopo. You bankrupted yourself. Now you want to bankrupt what's left of South Africa.
The difference between you and me is that you use politics to take money from the poor. I give money to politics. I am not seeking a position through politics. My name is not even on any list. But you are trying to get to Parliament at all costs. Unlike what you may read about me, I never received any government money. I never received any tenders. I was never a beneficiary in any BEE deal. But you have never worked an honest day in your life to earn your own money. You don't know what that feels like. You don't know what it means.
When the doors of government's treasury were slammed in your face, you immediately went to the poor with your cap in hand; promising them the world, when you needed their money to pay for your tax problems. You are like a man who steals a cellphone and then goes back to his victim to ask for airtime. You exploit our people's genuine hunger for a better life.
You want to nationalise the mines, but that will take huge amounts of public money to sustain – with no guarantees of profit. You will have to take money that we need right now to build houses and schools for poor people and you will have to gamble with that money to build mines. Nationalisation is not woodwork.
Will you be the one to look our old women in the eyes and say that they can't have their houses today because you want to invest in mines that will perhaps give us profits in 10 years' time? Our minerals will not crawl out of the earth by themselves. And we know that any profits will first have to survive going through your sticky hands before they reach the rest of us.
Jacob Zuma's Nkandla upgrade was wrong on all fronts. But you also took taxpayers' money to demolish a R3-million house in order to build a R16-million house in Sandton. Your own Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) commissar Andile Mngxitama criticised you for this very thing three years ago. Does he think you are no longer that man? None of us should be that naive.
You have insulted so many of our people. You insulted MaMbeki. You insulted Baba Buthelezi. You insulted Naledi Pandor. You had to apologise to all of them. Now you have insulted MaKhumalo, Jacob Zuma's first wife. She is a grandmother and you thought it funny to sexualise her and ask us to imagine her in a bathing suit. Is the only old woman who you respect your own grandmother in Seshego? You speak to no one with respect. Anyone who disagrees with you must know that a choice insult is already on its way from you. When the public protector went for you, you had nothing good to say about her. When the same public protector went for Zuma and Pansy Tlakula, you hailed her work. How stupid do you think we are?
Most of your erstwhile comrades in the ANC remain too scared to say anything against you, because they know that they stole with you, right alongside you. You know all their secrets.
You get two kinds of politicians in this country: the ones who come from prison and those who must still go to prison. You belong to the latter. I may be an ex-thief, but you are a present-day thief. You, particularly you, cannot be calling all white people in this country thieves.
I have a serious problem with you telling our young people that they must take the mines and take the land. All you can think of in your choice of language is, "Take, take and destroy." You are inculcating an attitude of taking instead of contributing and working. Our youth do not need that. No one needs that. Our youth need to be empowered educationally and financially to grow this country.
You are the modern-day Nongqawuse. There was no one there in 1856 to warn our people against that false prophet. Somebody needs to have the courage to warn us against you. I'm not scared of you. But I am scared of what will happen to this country if our young people don't realise what you are before it is too late.
For most of my younger years I was surrounded by conmen and thieves. But you are the biggest thief I ever met. You, truly, are the Con-mander in Thief.
I wish Kenny would take South Africa into his confidence over the real reasons why he left EFF.
Gayton McKenzie, Patriotic Alliance President