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Why the meeting between Julius Malema and Jacob Zuma should be celebrated

A 2009 file photo of former president Jacob Zuma and EFF leader Julius Malema. File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

A 2009 file photo of former president Jacob Zuma and EFF leader Julius Malema. File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 3, 2021


Modibe Modiba

For many years we’ve been preaching about Black unity, for many years we’ve spoken about the need to unite as Black people, especially around issues of radical economic transformation, irrespective of political affiliation.

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As a young Black person living in occupied Azania, one who has on numerous occasions fell victim to the narrative of the mainstream media and its deliberate plans to mislead the public and steer us in a particular direction, but today, my heart is pumping with joy.

During the era of former president Jacob Zuma, many of us fell into the trap of pushing a certain agenda, an agenda which seeks to undermine the Black agenda and any plans to disrupt the wrongful doings of white capital monopoly.

At that time, we weren’t clued up nor fully understood the damage we were doing; we weren’t open-minded and took things at face value and thought we were doing justice to this country.

Today, we fully understand what was at play. There’s a powerful quote which always brings a sense of hope into my life, it says: “There comes a time in the life of any nation where there are two choices, submit or fight, we shall not submit."

With that quote in mind, the time to fight is now. As South Africans, we should be very critical and ask ourselves very demanding questions, it’s time to have uncomfortable conversations whether we like it or not, or whether we like the people involved.

I’m not going to sit here and make Jacob Zuma out to be a saint; just like any leader, he had his flaws; flaws for which I’ll continue to hold him accountable whenever I bump into him. As a leader, he himself made decisions that at that time hurt me, for example, when the EFF stood up in Parliament and asked the ANC, which was under Jacob Zuma’s leadership, to expropriate land without compensation.

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The party decided to go against that plan; now as a young Black person, that deeply broke my heart. I couldn’t understand how a freedom fighter like Jacob Zuma and the entire liberation movement would say no.

I kept on asking myself questions like, “what were they fighting for if it wasn’t for the land”. “Why did they sacrifice their lives, family and get incarcerated if they weren’t going to be radical with regards to changing this country.” With all those questions playing in my mind, I saw uBaba as an enemy.

But I should also state that although our anger at him was justified at that time, mainstream media and white monopoly capital deliberately played with our feelings to push their own agenda. They deliberately withheld information which showed the strides that his administration was making to transform the economy of this country and challenge the evergreen contracts that they currently enjoy under this present leadership.

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For example, they deliberately fed us propaganda about a mysterious house in Dubai, billions of rand that uBaba had stolen and have yet, to this day, provide any evidence. For that, I humbly apologise to former president Jacob Zuma, forever believing lies about him without asking critical questions.

I ask for forgiveness, forever thinking that he deliberately signed the deal to get Muammar Gaddafi killed, which they constantly fed to us, to only, years later, find out that Jacob Zuma was the only African leader prepared to help the former Libyan leader and give him a place to reside in.

I also commend the leader of the EFF, CIC Julius Malema, for taking the initiative to visit the former president and sort out whatever issues they might have, especially for the advancement of Black unity.

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For many years we’ve seen well-orchestrated plans and carefully designed campaigns to discredit the former president at all costs. How many political influencers were paid to deliberately write stories discrediting his administration.

I’m happy that all these issues are now beginning to come out. I now know that uBaba was a threat that white monopoly capital needed to deal with and remove from office.

I mean, under his leadership, we had BRICS, which was an alternative to the West and its bullying; things were beginning to take a different direction but we couldn’t see. This is the same president that single-handedly made white people forget about their privilege and protest, shouting “Zuma must go”. The very same white people that have never protested against their privilege, poverty and the unequal economic divisions in our land.

How could that very same man now be the enemy of the people. We’ve also now seen that the law applies itself differently to people like Jacob Zuma, which defeats the very same purpose of this so-called constitutional democracy we live in.

Where we make mistakes, we must accept and ask forgiveness; where we see an injustice happening, we must also speak up and take charge. We’ve allowed apartheid leaders like FW de Klerk to roam around freely and address us about democracy. How can we allow to see one of our own perish while those that killed our forefathers enjoy the benefits of this freedom that was fought for by leaders like Jacob Zuma.

I hope this tea meeting will be the beginning of great things. A start of a new chapter that seeks to unite Black South Africans beyond party politics.

* Modiba is co-founder and co-host of The Insight Factor

* The opinions expressed here don’t necessarily reflect those of IOL