Yesterday, Julius Malema, the controversial leader of the ANC Youth League found out that his wings had been clipped. With a five year suspension from the ANC in place, he is no longer allowed to soar above his party or his country. You may be asking who is Julius Malema and why should you care anyway. Well, to give you some insight on his influence, the announcement of his disposition rallied the South African stock exchange and the rand strengthened.
Julius Malema is only 30 years old, yet he is an immensely popular figure in South Africa who helped President Jacob Zuma become the ANC president by rallying his supporters to vote for Zuma who at the time was beleaguered with scandals. Malema is gruff, ostentatiously rich and seriously unvarnished. At a press conference in 2010, he publicly insulted a BBC correspondent by calling him a “bastard’ and a “agent” because the reporter pointed out the hypocrisy in Malema’s preachings versus his lifestyle. His antics have also been largely embarrassing for the ANC especially because he makes no attempts to hide his disdain for white presence in South Africa when he sings the incendiary song “Shoot the Boer”/ ‘shoot the white farmer’. Political pundits view him as a king maker however, others see him as a polarizing figure who could potentially destabilize the country. But some black South Africans look up to him for advocating the nationalization of mines, the seizure of white owned farms and the transfer of wealth to the black minority.
In a country with such a huge income disparity, this radical message has earned him a lot of supporters but it has also undermined South Africa’s international reputation. So Zuma and the ANC dealt Malema a stiff penalty that is meant to keep Malema in check. At the end of the day, it seems like ultimately, it was Malema’s outlandish and fearless, albeit, arrogant utterances led to his downfall. No one is above party or country. Ghana’s JJ Rawlings found this out on July 11th 2011 and on November 10th, Julius Malema also got this rude awakening. But if you follow Malema like I do, you know that he will be back.