George Matlala and Moffet Mofokeng
As Julius Malema struggles to explain his wealth, his grandmother’s house is being upgraded into a double-storey mansion in Limpopo.
He has, however, denied financing the structure in his hometown of Masakaneng, Seshego, outside Polokwane.
Malema yesterday said his grandmother – Sarah – has nine children and it was they who were building the house for her.
“That woman has nine kids, all of them (are employed). That is not my house. Her children are building that house for her.
“But even if it was me… building it, there was nothing wrong. Stop undermining that woman,” Malema said.
The Sunday Independent has seen the double-storey mansion.
An apartheid matchbox house in which Malema was raised was razed, making way for the construction of the new house.
The Seshego house – which is being renovated for the second time – was being built at the same time as Malema’s apparent R16 million mansion in Sandown, north of Joburg.
He, as in Seshego, flattened his previous R3.6m property to build it anew.
Malema owns three properties – the Sandton mansion, another one in Polokwane and a piece of land he allegedly bought for cash.
Since City Press revealed that he was using his trust fund to allegedly accept bribes, Malema has been under severe criticism – but the ANC in Limpopo and his league are firmly behind him.
His allies in the provincial ANC are desperately searching for the businessman who revealed that the ANC Youth League leader is amassing his wealth through kickbacks.
The Sunday Independent has also learnt that a concerted effort was this week made to find and identify the person who told the City Press that he allegedly deposited R200 000 into the Ratanang Trust Fund.
A source close to Malema’s circle, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the businessman is the only person that “could bring down” the league president.
ANC spokesman David Masondo said the Limpopo ANC was calling for the arrest of the businessman because he had implicated himself in alleging that he had paid a bribe to Malema.
Masondo said Limpopo ANC’s provincial general council, a mid-term gathering since the last conference, was likely to pronounce its support for Malema.
“There is nothing wrong he has done,” said Masondo, who is the province’s finance MEC.
Without mentioning names, Masondo implied that Malema was being victimised for being critical of the ANC leadership and agitating for changes.
“There is a possible replay in the processes leading towards Polokwane conference in which baseless allegations against those who hold different views towards conference are levelled. There is also a possible usage of state institutions to fight internal leadership battles within the ANC,” he said.
The ANC in Limpopo is pushing to hold its provincial conference in December.
If the conference is held in December and Malema’s allies win, this will buttress his power base ahead of the ANC’s national conference next year.
Like Zuma before the 2007 conference, his supporters are exploiting allegations of corruption to depict him as a victim of a political conspiracy. This has seen his allies coming strongly for his defence.
They include the ANC in the North West and Limpopo, the youth league and the Limpopo Women’s League.
Referring to Malema as “our beloved son from Limpopo”, the women’s league said it remained “in our unwavering support for the ANCYL president and the economic programme the ANCYL represents”.
ANC North West secretary Kabelo Mataboge said the media, opposition parties and some state security organs had colluded to “attack” Malema in the same way they did with Zuma before he became president.
“The attack on Malema is a political conspiracy. It is not in any way different to what Zuma suffered before he became president. We have observed how the state can disown one of its own in favour of fashionable neo-liberal tendencies.”
Mataboge, who is seen as a Malema ally, said there was no basis to charge Malema with fraud and corruption.
Masondo, like Mataboge, said the party in his province was behind Malema as he was being victimised to weaken Limpopo and the youth league towards the party’s Mangaung conference.
“The campaign is basically to delegitimise the ANCYL and the ANC in Limpopo in the policy and leadership debates towards the national conference,” he said.
This weekend, Malema fought back at the youth league’s first national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Boksburg, dismissing as false allegations that he was using a trust fund as a conduit to receive bribes.
“He pleaded innocence on the issue of the trust,” an NEC member who attended the meeting said.
Another league NEC member said in his opening remarks that Malema had confirmed that he started the fund in 2008 but did not understand the fuss around it.
“He said he does not understand the noise about the trust fund because he did set it up in 2008 and it was doing business.
“People who accuse him of wrongdoing must prove that he is corrupt,” the member said.
But another NEC member said the allegations were a “serious setback” for Malema.
“This is definitely a setback for Julius, more particularly because it goes to the heart of his personal life. No one can dispute that this thing has hit him hard, but he will overcome it,” another NEC member said.
ANCYL spokesman Floyd Shivambu said yesterday the meeting was closed to the media and did not respond to a request for comment.