Khaya Dlanga
Khaya Dlanga

I think I’d be great friends with Julius, seriously

And I mean it. I think he is a pretty pleasant and probably funny guy too. I can’t help but imagine exchanging slaps on the back and doubling back in laughter as we have chats about whatever it is that young men talk about. As much as I take issue with some of the things he has said and what he stands for politically, that does not mean that I wouldn’t or shouldn’t get along with him personally.

There is no doubt that some people might take issue with what I just said. Particularly those who see Julius Malema as a fumbling idiot who does not know when to shut up. That would be understandable considering some of the things I have written about him. As people, we tend to have no separation between the public figure and the fact that he is also an average guy who likes to have a drink and talk about girls. Those of us who are not public figures all have friends we disagree with on almost everything but we don’t stop being friends simply because we disagree. We need to be able to separate the personality from their politics.

I imagine some of my friends would give me odd look if I told them that I went go-carting with Malema and Jacob Zuma (not that I have, don’t start spreading rumours now). “How could you hang out with them after all the things they have said?” Well, I would remind those people that in my friendship circles I have friends who are pastors and atheists, friends who are womanisers and friends who have had the same and only girlfriend for the past five years. In our dealings with the complexities of human engagement, we all have these contradictions in our friendship circles. Why then can we not have friends who hold differing political views without being enemies? But that does not mean we can’t be honest in our disagreements with them.

A person’s political position does not define who they are; it defines what they stand for politically. We are not our politics. We are people before we have a political position.

Thabo Mbeki is probably not the easiest person in the world to get along with but that does not mean that we should dislike his politics simply because we do not like him as a person. I imagine being a friend with him requires a lot of work, he must not see you as just a waste of his time if you are to be his friend. I also suspect that once he has brought you into his inner circle you would have great laughs and probably an intellectually meaningful relationship.

We should not vote for people simply because we like them. Nor should we not vote for them because we don’t like their personalities. Competence, character and ability seem to run a distant second when people vote, which is most unfortunate. How else can we justify the fact that most voters don’t trust Zuma but somehow he still garners more votes according to opinion polls? I understand that someone is going to comment and say that it’s not him, it’s because of the party.

Like I said, I’d have a drink with Julius, I’d tease him about his political views because I know he is set in his ways. I don’t see him changing them. He would probably tease me about mine too. Much hilarity would ensue I imagine. Naturally I’d have more to laugh about. I’d talk about showers and fake accents among other things. I don’t know, maybe I’m just idealistic.

There are many people I agree with on almost every issue but I cannot stand them. Just as there are people who agree with me but cannot stand me. Understandably, if I were someone else I wouldn’t stand myself either.

Just to make things clear, I’m not ANCist or anything, some of my best friends are in the ANC. I think I’m beginning to sound like a Malema, Bush and Zuma apologist. Having said what I have, I am still voting Cope and I hope you all do.