Malema is reckless – Mbalula

561 Julius Malema and Fikile Mbalula sing freedom songs during the ANCYL's 66th Anniversary rally held in Polokwane. 160910. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

561 Julius Malema and Fikile Mbalula sing freedom songs during the ANCYL's 66th Anniversary rally held in Polokwane. 160910. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Published Jun 16, 2013



Julius Malema’s erstwhile friends – including Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale and Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula – have vehemently distanced themselves from his new party initiative, with the latter saying his comrade is immature, reckless and committing political suicide.

In an interview with The Sunday Independent last week, Mbalula said Malema lacks political education and is impatient.

Mbalula said there had been speculation that he was the brains behind Malema’s party, given their close friendship.

“As a cadre, being trained by the ANC, forming a political party out of the ANC is political suicide. It is out of anger and not necessity… Being disgruntled about individuals in the ANC cannot lead to the formation of a political party… I have no intention of joining anything,” he said, describing Malema’s new initiative as “political adventurism”.

“He is my friend but this is where I draw the line. And I will remind him that, friendship aside, it is my duty to defend the ANC.

“I was almost expelled before Polokwane (ANC national conference) and accepted guidance and the most helpful thing for me was political education… Julius’s generation had not had that opportunity to get political education, they lack patience… I told him that he is committing political suicide,” he said.

Mbalula, who is indirectly responsible for Malema’s rise in the ANC Youth League, said he still believed “Julius can bounce back as a solid leader, only if he can remain patient”.

“But what he is doing is reckless and erratic and speaks to a lack of political maturity.”

Asked if he was abandoning his friend, Mbalula said: “I have defended him in the (ANC’s national executive committee) when many didn’t want to be associated with him. I have risked my career for remaining true to our friendship.

“But friendship must be balanced with one’s principles and conviction. I don’t believe in veering from the ANC as a matter of principle, and if it means I part ways with Julius on this, so be it.”

“If my beliefs are not based on principles but on mere friendship, then it is hollow.

“My honest advice to my friend is that he has been through tribulations, his legal battles, and he was expelled from the movement. But this calls for patience.

“I respect his choice as a citizen with constitutional rights to belong to whatever party, but his political decision is sad,” said Mbalula.

Malema and Mbalula had a close personal and political relationship, and were primarily seen as the key conspirators behind a plot to remove President Jacob Zuma at the party’s last conference in Mangaung.

Malema was expelled before the conference after a lengthy disciplinary process while ANC delegates rejected Mbalula as secretary-general and booted him out of the party’s highest structure, the NEC. Mbalula is not the only Malema ally to frown upon his new initiative.

Mathale, who lost his chairmanship of the provincial ANC after Luthuli House dissolved the party’s Limpopo leadership structure, on Saturday said Malema’s decision to form a forum of “radical militants” to champion “economic freedom” was “unfortunate”.

“I don’t agree with it but he has the right to do it. Like I said, he is a citizen and no longer a member of the ANC. I am not concerned about what people who are not members of the ANC do. It’s unfortunate that things have turned out the way they did. Obviously he is going to oppose the ANC and I am a member of the ANC. We are going to be on the opposing side of the fence. It’s unfortunate,” Mathale said.

Limpopo Human Settlements MEC Clifford Motsepe, who was part of the legal team that represented Malema during his misconduct case with the ANC, said while Malema would “remain my friend”, he wanted nothing to do with his forum.

“I can’t leave the ANC. I will die ANC. I am going to attend branch general meetings with my grand children and the day I die my coffin would be draped in black, green and yellow colours,” Motsepe said.

Former Limpopo ANC provincial secretary Soviet Lekganyane last week denounced Malema as a “hypocrite”.

This came after Malema said Lekganyane was kicked out of his position after releasing a statement early this year rejecting “one of their own” for political expediency.

“We have accepted the decision of the NEC of the ANC to uphold the ruling of the NDCA (national disciplinary committee of appeal) and also not to review it. For him to hallucinate that we released a statement renouncing him in order to propitiate favours with the new leadership and stave off any possible dissolution of the PEC (provincial executive committee) is as infertile as it is parochial.

“It is a statement of a nostalgic hypocrite reminiscing of his halcyon days in the ANC,” said Lekganyane.

Former ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa, who represented Malema in his first disciplinary hearing in 2010 when was has charged with comparing President Jacob Zuma unfavourably to his predecessor Thabo Mbeki, said he did not want to talk about other parties. “I am a member of the ANC,” Phosa said, adding that the economic freedom fighters should speak for themselves.

Former National Youth Development Agency chairman, Andile Lungisa, who is a friend of Malema’s said he would not join the new party. Maruleng ANC sub-regional secretary Tsheko Musolwa, who is close to Malema’s one-time close ally Mopani District Municipality mayor Joshua Matlou, dismissed Malema’s initiative as “a very selfish decision”.

“It is more guided by personal ambition and individual glory than the welfare of the people he is talking about,” Musolwa said.

However, some ANC members said they were concerned about the dent Malema was likely to make in the ruling party in next year’s elections, largely because of perceptions that President Jacob Zuma is corrupt and morally bankrupt.

A member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said this was because the ANC had so far failed to separate itself from Zuma’s actions. “Now the DA and Julius are going to successfully campaign against the ANC on the basis of Zuma the person and his failures, not what the ANC has done or has not done.” – Additional reporting by Moshoeshoe Monare

Sunday Independent

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