The ANC’s spokesman, Jackson Mthembu, has released a statement in which South Africa’s ruling party “strongly condemns” what it describes as an “unfortunate outburst” directed by Julius Malema at a BBC journalist in a press conference yesterday.
This is possibly the strongest pubic reprimand addressed by the party to the volatile president of its youth wing. The ANC has been notoriously reluctant to rein in Malema who has generated endless column inches for his legendary wild statements which have included demanding the elimination of the opposition DA and claiming he would kill for Jacob Zuma.
The party called Malema’s behaviour “aggressive and insulting” and said it was “not in keeping with the culture and traditions as well as conduct of a cadre and leader of the ANC”. It also admitted that Malema’s tirade “reflected negatively on the ANC YL, the entire ANC family, our Alliance partners as well as South Africa in the eyes of the international community”.
The ANC’s statement also tackles Malema’s brazen support for Zanu PF (the ANC’s partisanship is a little more veiled than the ardour apparent in its youth league’s frothy fulminations about Zanu PF). The statement says:
The ANC would also like to strongly disagree and distance itself from utterances by the ANC YL at their press conference yesterday that they will support President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF to win the forthcoming general elections in Zimbabwe. The ANC stance on the Zimbabwe issue is that we fully support the mediation process that is currently underway, which is led and facilitated by President Jacob Zuma. The ANC together with its government would like to see all political parties in Zimbabwe (the two MDC’s and Zanu PF) implementing the spirit and the letter of the Global Political Agreement. It is therefore our view that the ANC YL’s expression of support for one party in Zimbabwe goes against our country’s and President Zuma’s mediation efforts in that country.
Mthembu says an urgent meeting will be held with Malema to discuss his behaviour and his rabidly pro-Zanu PF stance.
It will be interesting to see whether the severe tone of the statement marks a shift in the way Malema is handled by the ANC. Will he be made to behave? Have the powers that be decided he is becoming too much of a liability — or threat?
And, if an attempt is made to make him behave, what will his reaction be? The footage of Malema’s outburst shows a man drunk on power — or perceived power. This, I believe, will be the cause of his eventual hubris. While his ascent within the ANC may seem unstoppable and impregnable, I believe this is far from the case. Malema’s anger yesterday marks his achilles heel. His response to the journalist’s remark shows he has a major insecurity problem and a deep yearning to be respected. What is also evident is that this insecurity is a catalyst for wild behaviour — wild behaviour that could one day cause his career implode. Hotheadedness and volatility in a politician is a major liability because they lead to actions that can alienate and cause resentment amongst competing factions and even in one’s own power base.
So whoever can successfully exploit this this weakness as well as his addiction to power, will be able to topple him. Malema’s position is far more vulnerable than we realise.
- Read the rest of the ANC’s statement on Ray Hartley’s blog.