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Julius Malema has told the BBC’s World Service that his expulsion from the ANC would be overturned “automatically” when President Jacob Zuma was voted out of office at the party’s Mangaung leadership conference in December.
Malema, who is in London, fielded questions not only from his interviewer but also listeners in Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda, Kenya and other African countries.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula – a close ally – was also in the British capital and “very proud” of the country’s first gold medal through the triumph of swimmer Cameron van der Burgh, he added.
Malema said he would be flying out of London on Thursday, and expressed regret this would be before Caster Semenya competed.
The wide-ranging interview ran for an extra five minutes.
“We are not calling for economic chaos but the emancipation of the majority of our people,” he said. “We came to the (UK) because most of the principals of South African business are based in London,” he told listeners.
Presenting himself as someone born of “struggles” in the townships, in squatter camps and “among the rural masses”, Malema deflected repeated questions about how he had achieved his surprising wealth, given his poor background.
He claimed not to have been approached by any law enforcement agency over his finances and said he had done nothing illegal – blaming reports suggesting otherwise on a sensational media bent on discrediting him.
Told by his interviewer that listeners wanted to know how he had done so well, so fast, Malema said his financial affairs were “private resources” and that he had obtained “nothing illegally”.
“I am also involved in business, I have done business legally in South Africa…” he insisted.
His expulsion was being contested by structures of the ANC, and the party’s December conference would be used to overturn it, Malema said. “When we remove President (Jacob) Zuma in December, it will be an automatic overturning of that decision…”
The youth league admired the “fighting spirit” of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, he said.
He denied the league had called for regime change in Botswana – among comments that led to his being disciplined. However, he said it was a “dangerous imperialist” state that threatened African unity.
The ANC had arrived at the same conclusion after investigating but “lacked the courage to say so”.
He said his expulsion was for the “simple reason” that he was seen as a threat to Zuma’s re-election.
Malema said people were still committed to him even though he had been expelled by the ANC because he was “leading a revolution in South Africa for economic emancipation”. This was “close to the hearts of the people” of both SA and Africa.
His mentors were the late youth league president Peter Mokaba and ANC veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. “I am still very close to her, which worries some in the ANC who thought that by expelling us they would succeed in isolating us… and they have not succeeded”.
Nelson Mandela would be “very happy” with him as, while still young, he had changed an ANC “of gentlemen” into a “fighting force”. But Mandela had gone on to preach tolerance, the interviewer said.
Malema said the youth league was not going to pretend there was “no more apartheid” or that those who had benefited from it were getting richer. “We are going to be as robust as possible, those who benefited from apartheid should… appreciate we have forgiven them… but we have not forgotten where we have come from,” Malema said.