Friday, April 9, 2010

All Malema All the Time

Eugene Terre Blanche aside, and he is dead, the most divisive and abrasive figure in South Africa today is Julius Malema, president of the African National Council Youth League.

Yes, we will get back to soccer someday, soon, but when JM is ranting, and the ANC is attempting to get its loose cannon under control ... well, it makes for some great theater. If it didn't seem creepy and pre-violent at the same time.

Today, we will look at Malema's outburst during a press briefing in Johannesburg on Thursday, when he called a BBC reporter a "bastard" and a "bloody agent" ... as well as the ANC trying today to muzzle its own youth fuhrer before he creates even more trouble.

If you didn't follow the "Malema outburst" link, here is the best of it ... directed at a young reporter for the BBC, Jonah Fisher:

What irked Malema was Fisher's comment that Malema should not criticise Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's opponents for operating from "air-conditioned offices" in Sandton because the youth league leader himself lives in the area.

"Let me tell you before you are tjatjarag [excited]," a fuming Malema said while wagging his finger at the BBC reporter.

"This is a building of a revolutionary party and you know nothing about the revolution. So here you behave or else you jump."

Amazed by Malema's response, Fisher laughed.

"Don't laugh," warned Malema. "Chief, can you get security to remove this thingy?

"If you are not going to behave, we are going to get security to take you out.

"This is not a newsroom, this. This is a revolutionary house and you don't come here with that white tendency, not here. You can do it somewhere else, not here.

"If you have got a tendency of undermining blacks, even where you work, you are in the wrong place. Here you are in the wrong place."

An angry Fisher retorted: "But that's rubbish."

Malema responded: "You can go out. Rubbish is what you have covered in that trouser - that is the rubbish. You are a small boy, you can't do anything. Go out. Bastard! Go out! You bloody agent!"

As Fisher walked out, Malema turned his fury on the rest of the reporters in the room.

"It's not a beer hall here. It's not a drunk beer hall, cheap beer hall, this. And you ask anybody, including political parties, which tried to undermine this house, what happened to them.

"You can undermine all of us, but not the house. Never undermine the house. When you are here, you are in a different terrain. You are in our space and you are going to behave in a manner that is befitting of being in the ANC office.

"You don't howl here, especially when we speak, and you behave like you are in an American press conference? This is not America, it's Africa," he shouted.

And then, today, Malema was smacked down by the adults in the ANC, who apparently have a better sense of the damage the guy is doing to the party and to the country with the 2010 World Cup nine weeks away.

In the Cliffs Notes version of that, the ANC said ...

“The aggressive and insultive behaviour to the said journalist that culminated with Mr Fisher walking out of the Youth League press briefing cannot be condoned at all,” the organization said in a statement.

It said the “unfortunate outburst” by Malema did not only reflect negatively on him, but also reflected negatively on the ANCYL, the entire ANC family, their Alliance partners as well as South Africa in the eyes of the international community.

Well, that sums things up quite nicely.

If you read to the bottom of the link, we see that Malema was creating problems bigger than bad relations with the media.

He was sending out signs on relations with Zimbabwe that run directly counter to official ANC policy. Malema is backing the policies of president-for-life Robert Mugabe, the man who destroyed the Zimbabwean economy and made his country into one of the more repressive regimes in Africa. Which is saying something. Malema has been saying Zimbabwe sets an example South Africa should follow.

The ANC's official policy toward Zimbabwe is non-intervention in its internal affairs.

Now ... we shall see if the ANC's sensible folks can keep Julius Malema from making news for, oh, about three months. It certainly would improve the chances of the country pulling off a peaceful and successful World Cup.

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