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Limpopo - With cash running out and the ANC in Limpopo and the party’s youth league turning against him, Julius Malema was forced to bid farewell to his bodyguards this week.
The once-powerful former ANC Youth League president – always flanked by bodyguards as a power status – apparently confessed to his protectors this week that he could no longer afford to pay them.
The Sunday Independent understands that he was paying them hard cash lately after one of his business partners stopped transferring their salaries.
This was confirmed by a Limpopo government official close to Malema and another independent source who could not be named as they did not want to appear to be leaking their ally’s affairs.
However a third source – who is familiar with Malema’s domestic circumstances but also refused to be named to protect the expelled youth leader’s “privacy” – told The Sunday Independent that Malema did not need guards.
“He is no longer in the limelight, he doesn’t attend high-profile meetings any more. The guards come to his house in the morning just to look at him without a real job, so he had to say there is too little (work) for these guys,” the source said.
The Limpopo official said Malema told the guards that he would try to find them some other work with his remaining allies in the province.
“He was nice to them. He was actually sympathetic and showed that he cared about their plight. He was apparently concerned about their accommodation,” the official said.
Contacted on Friday, Malema did not wish to comment.
Malema, whose security detail was beefed up in 2009 when he received death threats, has been seen flanked by up to five protectors at a time. But they were lately reduced to two loyal guards.
Initially he was given two police bodyguards who cost taxpayers over R800 000 a year. But police withdrew the guards after his initial spat with President Jacob Zuma in 2011.
Malema then hired two personal protectors – believed to have been paid by his business allies.
But the source close to Malema disputed this, saying Malema paid them from his own pocket.
Malema’s discarding of protectors comes amid his financial battle with the taxman intensifying, with Sars apparently intending to go for sequestration in a desperate attempt to recoup its R16 million in tax debt.
The broke Malema, who has turned to farming, is also facing criminal charges relating to allegations of corruption in Limpopo. It is believed that his case is likely to sink more big names in the Limpopo government.
Malema and other Limpopo business people are due to appear in court on April 23.
Malema’s woes come as the ANC in Limpopo, his last political ally, blasted him in a public statement after his criticism of Zuma. The ANC Youth League now wants to cleanse itself of anyone linked to him.
There is a lobby group – believed to comprise people once sidelined by Malema – aimed at influencing provinces in dealing with remnants of Malema in the youth organisation and wiping out anonymous donors.
A league member, who is part of this group, said they would not purge but “re-educate” Malema allies.
“People who think like Julius Malema must know their days are numbered. They need to repent or leave the organisation,” he said, adding that “we are cleaning the cancer out of the youth league”.
But Limpopo ANC Youth League spokesman Klaas Mabunda said they were not surprised by the campaign to purge Malema loyalists.
The lobby group member said their main focus was to develop a financially independent league and get the league out of the pockets of anonymous funders. “We should get financial support of the ANC and not faceless people with illicit intentions and (who) want to use the league,” he said.
The league’s national working committee visited structures in Limpopo, the Free State and the Northern Cape this week but apparently met resistance from Malema allies.
In Limpopo, during a meeting at the ANC’s Limpopo office, Peter Mokaba regional chairman Jossey Buthane – a staunch Malema ally – allegedly wielded a knife at committee members and threatened to stab them before being booted out of the meeting.
But Buthane disputed this on Saturday and said when they left the meeting a group who thought the provincial league would be disbanded started attacking them.
“They stormed into the premises of the ANC shouting and insulting us, saying we would never lead them in our lifetime. They were banging on our cars and throwing stones. That is where the fight started. But there was no knife,” said Buthane.
He alleged that one of the regional chairmen was hit on the head with a stone. “The (youth league) NWC tried to calm them down but they were not very happy. They were pointing fingers at the national leadership,” Buthane said.
In the Free State, members refused to have their structures assessed by the working committee.
The league is expected to visit KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and North West this week.
The ANC’s top six officials met with the league’s NWC on Monday.
League deputy president Ronald Lamola and
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu refused to divulge details of the meeting.
But sources within the league said the organisation was told to assess the state of readiness of regional and provincial congresses due this year.
A league NEC member who was briefed about the meeting said the league’s leadership was given three options: to be disbanded, to have an early conference – to force it to toe the ANC line, or to go back to what the structure was supposed to be, a sane voice of the youth. He did not wish to be named as he is not mandated to speak to the media.
A league member who attended the meeting said the meeting also discussed the league’s leadership following Malema’s expulsion last year and the possibility that Lamola would continue as president.
Former league treasurer and ANC NEC member Pule Mabe’s reinstatement was also on the agenda. Mabe was suspended during Malema’s time at the league’s helm after a vote of no confidence in 2012.
But another senior youth league member, who did not want to be identified, said Mabe could not be on the ANC NEC and the youth league and he would need to choose.
Although the status of suspended league secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa was not discussed at the meeting, the source said he would return to the league in April – but is expected to join as an ordinary branch member.
Contacted this week Magaqa said: “I don’t want to talk about those things. The people who say this know better, so no comment.”
However a league official said there was a campaign within the league to convince the ANC that Magaqa should be expelled for his utterances, especially against Zuma, after Malema’s dismissal.