Juju bells: It's Christmas in April for Julius Malema
For Julius Malema, Christmas arrived on the morning of Thursday the 19th of April. Because that was when AfriForum announced that Gerrie Nel would be prosecuting Malema on charges of fraud and corruption, in a single stroke brushing away all the cobwebs that have besieged a stalling EFF in recent months and elevating Malema to instant martyr.
AfriForum’s threat was simple and logical. If the National Prosecuting Authority isn’t going to follow up on Thuli Madonsela’s report that Malema benefited from tenders in Limpopo, then somebody else needs to prosecute him. It’s an approach lifted directly from the EFF playbook, which hounded Jacob Zuma while the NPA twiddled its thumbs. AfriForum is simply pointing out that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the Commander-In-Chief.At least, that’s what it thinks it’s pointing out. But of course AfriForum is not The Avengers, an apolitical group of superheroes dedicated to upholding humanity and universal dignity. Instead, it is the group that describes apartheid apologist Steve Hofmeyr as a “friend”, and, last year, insisted that Afrikaners should be free to display the old South African flag in private.
Just to reiterate: this is an organisation that publicly stands by people who have a sentimental or cultural affection for the official jingle and official flag of a crime against humanity.
(In case you missed it, last month it also distinguished itself by claiming that if the old flag is banned, the rainbow-striped LGBTQ flag could be banned too. You know what? If LGBTQ people made it illegal for heterosexual people to own land, denied them the right to vote, forced them to carry a pass if they wanted to enter LGBTQ-only areas, and shot them with live ammunition when they protested, I’d be pretty OK with banning that flag too.)Suffice it to say, you won’t be stunned to learn that AfriForum is regarded with a tiny pinch of distrust by many black South Africans (and plenty of white ones too), who have a sneaking suspicion that it might not have the best interests of black people at heart.
And now this organisation – regarded by millions of South Africans as, at best, apartheid apologists and at worst the official front of a gang of Nazi crackers intent on restoring white rule – wants to go after the loudest supporter of black power and land restitution?
Malema couldn’t have scripted it better in his wildest dreams.
Overnight, AfriForum has imploded any credibility Madonsela’s report might have had, turning it, in the eyes of Malema’s supporters, from an irritating legal matter into an outrageously transparent racist attack on the one man who was going to destroy the Broederbond, the Stellenbosch mafia, the Rothschilds and all the other bogeymen that stand between them and economic freedom. By getting involved, AfriForum has turned this from a squabble between Malema and the law into a fight between poor black people and rich white racists.
If AfriForum’s intention is to remove Malema from public office, it has bungled spectacularly. If the trial goes ahead and Malema is found guilty of anything, he will emerge stronger than before, a bloodied martyr for his people. If nothing sticks and he walks free, he will tower over local politics as the man who crushed the puny attempts of his foes to bring him down.
On Thursday, somebody who goes by the handle of @Voiceoreason6 tweeted: “At this point we have no choice but to support Julius as black people. He cannot be silenced. He has done so much for us to be heard. The fight is not yet over for economic freedom. This coming from a non EFF supporter.”
Of course, there have also been dissenting tweets. Many have pointed out that Malema cannot demand that the law takes its course for Jacob Zuma but claim that he is being persecuted when it takes aim at him.
But that conversation has now been entirely sidelined by AfriForum’s ill-advised intervention.
Now and then one hears speculation that the organisation might contest elections as a political party. If it does, at least it knows it can win votes. God knows, it’s just won about a million votes for the EFF.