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Posted on Friday, 31 October 2014 14:59

South Africa: We need a person who will arrest Jacob Zuma - Julius Malema

By Crystal Oderson in Cape Town

Julius Malema, Commander-in-chief, Economic Freedom Fighters. Photo©Daniel Boshoff for TARTo judge by the reaction of the ruling African National Congress, the militant tactics of Julius Malema and the EFF are hitting their targets. In this exclusive interview, Malema explains why he is pressing President Jacob Zuma to repay state funds spent on his Nkandla homestead.

The old adage runs that revolutions eat their children – but in South Africa some argue that the children are eating the revolution.

The 'children' in question are Julius Malema and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the younger generation of militants who broke away from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) a year ago to form their own party.

As president of the ANC Youth League, Malema had been a rising star and benefited from the tutelage of some of the movement's veterans such as Winnie Mandela.

Five years ago, Malema was one of President Jacob Zuma's loudest cheerleaders, leading a band of comrades pledging they were ready "to kill for Zuma".

That was a political lifetime ago. After openly clashing with Zuma's leadership on policy, Malema was expelled from the ANC. And just nine months later he launched the EFF, it won more than a million votes in the national elections in May.

Malema – the EFF's commander-in-chief – and the party's 24 legislators entered parliament in June as the third-biggest party. But with the ANC winning almost two thirds of the 400 seats and with master tacticians in its ranks, few believed the EFF would make its voice heard, let alone land any blows.

A clash between a vigorous Malema and a tired-looking Zuma during parliamentary questions in late August changed the dynamic. Malema asked Zuma a simple question: When was he going to pay back the state's money judged by the Public Protector to have been wrongly spent on his Nkandla homestead?

Zuma said the subject was covered in a report sent to parliament two days earlier. "We are here to ask questions and need answers," responded Malema. "I have responded to the reports on Nklandla and the Special Investigations Unit," insisted Zuma.

Malema objected to this reply while some ANC members tried to block follow-up questions from the EFF. Then Malema's comrades started chanting "Pay back the money" and banging the desks.

What ensued was the biggest disruption in the post-apartheid parliament, with police in riot gear called to the building to restore order. Unperturbed, the EFF continued chanting with the fracas broadcast live on television.

Accused of protecting Zuma from more awkward questions, the speaker and ANC chairperson, Baleka Mbete, adjourned parliament and called in the riot police to deal with scuffles between ANC and EFF supporters and MPs in the parliamentary precinct.

The ANC's Gwede Mantashe accused the EFF of "trampling on the dignity of parliament [...] and if you want to destroy that institution you will regret it [...] when there is no parliament, there will be dictatorship."

There were some improbable supporters of the EFF's actions. Dawie Roodt, the Efficient Group's chief economist, argued that the EFF was effectively scrutinising the ANC.

"I don't agree with their actions or ideology, but they have strengthened democracy and have given the DA [Democratic Alliance] and ANC a wake-up call". said Roodt. ●

The Africa Report: Is the opposition getting its case across in parliament?

Julius Malema: The ruling party will try to muzzle the debate. We are in politics, and politics are a contested terrain. We shouldn't be crybabies and we must fight for our voice to be heard.

Are we getting closer to the truth about the upgrades to Zuma's Nkandla house?

He thought it was business as usual [in parliament], where he gives useless answers, laughs and then leaves. He thought it was his normal day of just coming to show off. I said to him: "We are not going to leave here today without an answer." And he laughed. He thought I was joking. And he needs to start taking this country seriously.

He also needs to start appreciating the fact that he's going to jail. Once he finishes his term of office, if he does finish it [...] he's going to be locked up. All his friends will be gone, and he will not have power. It will be very easy for him to be arrested.

The best thing Zuma should have done was to face this thing now when he still has power. Go to court, win there. He thinks he can be president for ever – he's setting himself up for failure.

Why is everyone in the ANC defending Zuma and condemning your tactics?

They do that because they're suffering from uncontrollable ambition for power. They were trying to impress [Zuma] in case he thinks of a reshuffle or anything else. But they say horrible things about him behind closed doors. After two years, Zuma will know what it means to be a rejected person.

Zuma is not powerful. Thabo [Mbeki] used to be powerful. We used to run in Luthuli House when Thabo gets into the office. We used to run into our offices and lock ourselves in – not because he's going to beat us up or anything – but we just didn't know what we were going to say to him when we saw him. Zuma doesn't have that stature and that presence, but Thabo was feared by everybody. Towards the end of his term he was reduced to nothing. Zuma is going to experience the same thing.

The president must pay this thing of Nklandla. The ANC is preparing for a new president. Paul Mashatile said Cyril Ramaphosa must be the president. We are barely six months into the new office [...] a clear indication they can't wait for the man to go.

Would you favour Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as our first female president in 2019?

I won't agree with her becoming the president because she's going to protect her husband. I've sat with Nkosazana in ANC meetings and the passion with which she defends Zuma is so scary. If we need a woman president, I think that Winnie Mandela can be a very good president and Naledi Pandor as her deputy. Naledi has the ear and the eyes to help her. I knew her [Pandor] to be the most independent person, [one] who's very clear and articulate. She was never scared to take on Zuma.

Nkosazana is highly compromised and conflicted, and I don't think she will take us anywhere. We need a person who is going to arrest Jacob Zuma after his term of office. That person must have courage. Must have the balls of steel and the breast of steel to say: "You're corrupt, you messed up our country and therefore you must go to jail."

What about Ramaphosa as president?

Cyril is driven by personal interest to accumulate wealth. He's doing everything in his power to become a dollar billionaire. And he's driven by personal ambition and the self-centredness type of an agenda. And he's suffering from exaggerated self-importance. He behaves like South Africa owes him something. He did that to [Nelson] Mandela when Mandela didn't make him deputy president.

Many people don't know that Cyril Ramaphosa didn't attend Mandela's inauguration at the Union Buildings. Why? Because he was beaten. A person who loves this country misses Mandela's inauguration because Mandela didn't make him what he wanted to become. It's about him. It's not about the country.

He's in the pockets of white capital. And if he takes over, he will help white monopoly capital to continue to milk South Africa. We need people who love this country, who will defend this country.

Do you regret being kicked out of the ANC?

I have no regrets. I've played my part. In politics, things don't just happen for no reason. We're all writing our own history. I've left a very serious mark in the politics of the youth. And it is going to take a very long time for anyone to replace that. I see they are trying to reorganise the youth league and it will never be the same. A precedent has been created that anyone who challenges the leadership will be removed from the youth league.

You are facing corruption charges – is the system going after you?

Well, the system has been set against me. They set the South African Revenue Service on me, and I said: 'If I owe you, let me pay.' We are done with that. Now we're going to a cri inal case. The person or people charged for having bribed me [...] they were tried separately from me and were acquitted. They are free.

I'm going to court and I will be declared innocent because I've never taken money from anyone, never worked for the state and never issued tenders. Why am I being charged? Because people can't defeat me politically. They use the state organs to try and silence me. And they will never succeed because the courts in this country are the only remaining credible thing.

What does your party stand for that's distinct from your rivals?

We are an alternative to the ruling party 20 years into democracy. We want to be the government and are going to use parliament as a platform to fight for issues.

We cannot defeat unemployment if we do not own the mineral and natural resources because white monopoly capital exploits the resources and leaves Africa with a crisis of unemployment and poverty and inequality. We must nationalise our assets to beneficiate and industrialise.

Without industrialisation, we will never defeat unemployment. You have to protect the local market and the local investors through raising the import tariffs so that it is cheaper to buy from home than outside.

Why should your party be different from other opposition groups?

Leaders like Mosiuoa Lekota were not young. He didn't have the energy we have and was not a militant radical. He didn't have any ideological perspective [...] no branches or membership. We are different because we are pursuing socialism, an agenda that the ANC and its constituency have abandoned.

Socialism, economic freedom in our lifetime. We want to be in every corner of the country, and we are here to stay.

What's the progress with getting land redistribution without compensation? We will vote with the ANC to expropriate the land without compensation. And we don't believe that the [government's] reopening of the land claims is genuine [...] particularly with Zuma because the first thing the Zulu royal family
did was to claim lots of pieces of land.

I think it is a transaction by Zuma. He wants to milk us once more through the so-called land claims [courts]. It's stealing public money and funding criminals who stole our land and butchered our people. The only thing we want is expropriation of land without compensation. The ANC supports us actually. [It] has got a resolution that 'willing buyer, willing seller' is not a good policy.

Where will your party be in 2019?

We are going to be the government, we are taking over. It was a good thing for us to fight to come to parliament because it gives you a platform to articulate what you represent. If we get branches all over South Africa, we are guaranteed of taking over in 2019. We're on a mission.

Do you have presidential ambitions?

If you are a teacher, there's no way you can't have an ambition of [being] a principal – then you lack vision. So any politician for sure will want to assume the highest office in the land. The EFF will be the one to tell us if we should continue to represent them at that level. ●



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