NEWS that expelled youth league president Julius Malema has started a political formation, the Economic Freedom Fighters has left me nervous – and excited.
Why am I nervous? After all, I was the one who praised him in my last column for speaking the language of the youth. I even said Malema was the only leader the youth had. I realized I appreciated Malema more when he was within the ANC mother body, for I felt the elders could always reign him in because he is careless with his words. A careless leader is a danger to his people. I was very much comfortable with Malema as a youth leader who was going through the initiation process of becoming a statesman. Malema has been disrespectful to his elders. Malema has been disrespectful to women. Malema, in his state of victimhood, has victimized others.
Malema has been ugly in telling his reality. Malema is the product of an ugly environment. He has been most honest and I can appreciate that in a world that runs on deceit.
Why am I excited that he is back? It is that ugly truth that he tells. It is because I am a product of the same ugly environment and I am crying impatiently for change. It makes sense to me that Malema’s ideas should have been supported by his elders. I daresay it makes sense to a lot of people.
I like Malema for his spunk and daringness. I like him for his rabble rousing. His shock tactics have helped us get with the program. When the vision seemed to be fading he brought it back into focus with a sharpness.
I see the fight for economic freedom an eventuality South Africa need to be prepared for because there has been a lot of dishonesty in our rainbow politics.
But I do not want to be led by a rabble rouser. Especially not through the fight for economic freedom. This fight is bound to be ugly, we do not need a leader who is an emotional rollercoaster.
Malema was exploited by his elders instead of being guided. He was allowed to get out of control so he can be the bullet in the handler’s gun. He has not outgrown this yet.
I asked who would lead us dispossessed masses. There are others who can lead us. We are too impatient with them. They are taking too long to show themselves. They are probably right to bide their time, as most times visionaries are.
I believe they will adjust to Malema, because right now, economic freedom is what we insist on. Malema seems to be the catalyst we need for change, just the same way the youth of 76 were. The truth is we die everyday, just not in big events involving state violence, until Marikana happened. When our futures die, we die but continue breathing.
I am hoping that Malema will take the youth vote so that the ANC mother body will be forced to negotiate with him to get those votes back. I am hoping that this will put Economic Freedom firmly on the ANC’s agenda as I predict the ANC will win next year’s elections but poorly, if Malema’s party runs as well. I am hoping that Economic Freedom will become the campaign agenda of all political parties. That the only debating point will be how we achieve it as a country. We cannot deny that the call for economic freedom is the truth of our times unless we do not understand the concept of freedom.
Malema will rile us up into too much of a frenzy if left to his own devices, and he might not have practical solutions to all the issues he will be highlighting. He needs his ANC, and his ANC needs him. Because the ANC is looking faded at the moment.
Article first published in Sowetan, 19 June 2013