It is nobody’s business where he gets his money from – and his supporters do not mind his lavish lifestyle, says ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.
“One of the things I’ve learnt in my short life in politics is the ability to live in the conditions of capitalism while fighting it and defeating it,” he said in Joburg yesterday.
Malema had called the media briefing to respond to a Sunday Independent report that said he had demolished his R3.6 million home in Sandown, in Sandton, and was building a R16 million mansion in its place.
He said the news report existed only in “the imaginations of right-wing, narrow-minded and obsessed white people”.
Then he told a journalist who asked where he got his money from: “It’s none of your business… you must mind your own business.”
He was a private citizen and not accountable to the media, Malema said.
If the SA Revenue Service were to investigate him about the Sandown house, as the DA had asked it to, he would co-operate fully. He was confident his taxes were in order, he said before launching into an attack on “ruthless capitalism”.
“If you are a capitalist, you are an exploiter.”
Asked how he justified his expensive lifestyle – living in Sandton and driving a Mercedes-Benz – Malema said poor people did not mind if their leaders were rich.
He boasted that he was “the only remaining leading political figure in the country who gets welcomed in the squatter camps”.
“In this country, there are some among the poor who are saying Cyril Ramaphosa must be the president. He’s a multimillionaire.
“Some among the masses are saying Tokyo Sexwale must be president. He’s rich.
“They don’t care about his money, our people don’t care about our money. What they care about is political consciousness, the will to liberate them.
“It’s not about where we stay. Our people know that very well. It’s not about the type of shoes we wear. That is petty. Our people want the political will and the ability to act, and that is what we are doing.”
Malema said he considered himself to be poor, because his house in Sandton and his car were owned by the bank.
“My definition of rich is those who own the means of production.
“Instead of being rich, I remain poor, but I’m creditworthy…
“That house (the media) always make a noise about in Sandton – not the one you allege I’m building – it’s owned by Absa.
“And if I fail to pay it, for sure, Maria Ramos (Absa group chief executive) would be very happy she’s taking a house from a man who’s leading a nationalisation campaign because she does not want nationalisation.”
Negative media coverage was all part of a drive to undermine the agenda he represented, Malema said.
“I represent nationalisation of mines, expropriation of land, decentralisation of development, free education, the liberation of the working class.”
The youth league would agree to meet the Chamber of Mines to discuss nationalisation only if the chamber agreed to hold the meeting in a poor rural village, so that the mining bosses could “appreciate where we’re coming from”.
On land expropriation, Malema said he would support it if it took place in the public interest. He would even give up his Sandton home, or his farm, if they were expropriated in the public interest.
“I’ve got a house here in Sandton. If tomorrow they say, that house, there is a need for a street to pass there and they are expropriating it, I would not have a problem.
“I’ve got a farm with cattle… if I go home and they say they want to build a school, if it is in public interest, I would surrender it.”
But if the government wanted to give the land to “an individual”, Malema would not hand it over.
“We are talking about expropriation of land for public interest and public purpose. Not for individual benefit, not for political leadership benefits. That is anarchy. We will never allow that.” – Sapa