Julius Malema’s headline-grabbing antics were deemed worthy of a full confidential memo featured on Wikileaks, according to a report.
The Guardian website reports that the notoriously outspoken ANC Youth League leader gave strong views on two presidents and scorned the idea of a woman doing the job in a meeting with US embassy officials.
In 2007 Malema was a provincial secretary of the ANCYL when he visited the US embassy in Pretoria. He discussed the league's support for President Jacob Zuma, which was to prove crucial in ousting Thabo Mbeki from the presidency in 2009.
According to the report, a leaked US embassy memo stated: “Julius Malema, who was frank and friendly, started the conversation with stories of his 'young pioneer' days when the ANC taught him how to use a gun 17 years ago, at the tender age of nine.
“He then boasted that Limpopo's ANCYL has more members than any other province and is “100% united” in its support of Zuma.
Malema never explained why he or the league supports Zuma, but did admit that Zuma would likely not have been picked up by the ANCYL “if Mbeki hadn't gone after him”, the Guardian quoted the memo as saying.
“Malema stated matter of factly that Zuma is ‘a victim of a conspiracy similar to what would happen in American politics’. “ When asked what he meant by the analogy, Malema said he was referring to the portrayal of US politics in movies.
He told diplomats the ANCYL no longer supported Mbeki because he “thinks he's too clever for all of us and he won't engage with us”, the memo dated November 5 reportedly said.
“In a subsequent aside, Malema admitted that ANCYL president, Fikile Mbalula, did not want to support Zuma during the rape trial but that the regional leadership insisted, arguing that if the YL defended Zuma on corruption charges, they could defend him on rape charges since both acts are immoral. He also hinted that Fikile was told his position depended on his support of Zuma.”
Malema told the diplomats that if Zuma was sent to jail the league would support the ANC secretary general, Kgalema Motlanthe, for the presidency. “However, he added that though ‘Motlanthe is brilliant, you can't understand anything he says’.”
Malema, who has angered feminists with some of his public statements, dismissed the possibility of a female successor, “saying South Africa needs a ‘man who is ahead on issues, but who can walk with the masses’”.
Zuma was acquitted of rape in 2006 after he insisted the sex with his accuser was consensual, while corruption charges against him were dropped shortly before he became president.
“It has never been adequately answered whether Malema speaks on his own or with backing from senior leaders of the party,” the memo notes. “Regardless of whether his views are sanctioned, however, it is becoming clearer that President Jacob Zuma respects Malema and his place within the movement.
“Malema's continued media prominence begs the question: where is President Zuma on some of these issues?
“One respected political analyst commented to us recently that he would be worried if a Youth League president did not go around sounding off like this, and that having someone saying such things might even serve as something of a safety valve by making disgruntled youth feel that their anger was being heard by the ANC's senior leaders.
“We are nonetheless concerned that, as a generation which does not remember the struggle against apartheid comes to adulthood, they may be less content to accept mere rhetoric to express their anger at what they may see as continuing inequality,” the memo said. - IOL