Khaya Dlanga
Khaya Dlanga

Dear Julius Malema, you are not the travesty, we are

I have never met you. I have never talked to you but I have been within close proximity to you. Yes, on both occasions you were smoking cigars. There is nothing wrong with smoking them at all. I for one have smoked cigars many times. None of which I bought with my own money of course. I suspect that is the case with you too; after all, you did say you live on handouts. Something we both have in common apparently. To be honest, I’d rather live on the handouts you live on. Mine are peanuts in comparison; they seem nothing but rubbish in my trousers.

Where was I? Oh yes. I have seen you behave courteously and respectfully towards people in these public places. This is what prompted me to write a blog I called “I think I’d be great friends with Julius, seriously”. You did come across as a really nice guy. So I am puzzled when I see what you become when the cameras start rolling.

To tell you the truth, I am a little scared of writing this blog because of the manner in which you react to criticism. I understand why you react the way you do. Perhaps it is your mandate, it’s what you have been taught, and it’s what you must do. ANCYL president after president has been very much like you. I really don’t think that you have been any more or less outrageous than the previous presidents. The only difference is that they lived in a different time, an era before Instant News — before the era of the internet, Facebook and Twitter. The news is more instant than instant coffee now.

You are not being persecuted. There is nothing special about the manner in which the media treats you. Trust me, the next ANCYL president will have it worse because this new media beast is gathering steam. If you don’t learn to manage it, it will manage you and will create a narrative for you. You will become what it says you are. The more arrogantly you treat it, the harsher the backlash. The media has as much of an ego as you do. It loves to be stroked, to be loved, to be paid attention to, and to be respected. If you manage it differently, watch the kind of narrative you get. But then again, I am just being tjatjarag. Perhaps it’s the white tendencies I learned in the white schools I went to.

Do you think that you have in you to resign as president of the youth league? Hear me out please before you tell me to jump. I know I may come across as a bit tjatjarag but that is not the intention. Sometimes staying in a difficult position is not an act of courage. In this case, passing on the baton could be an act of courage not cowardice. Recognising that you are putting the ANC in a position of ill-repute, especially just months before the World Cup. Of course you wouldn’t do that, you serve at the pleasure of the ANCYL. Standing down could be for the honour of the ANC, a party I know you love.

Recently, the president of the republic and of the African National Congress, Jacob Zuma, publicly chastised you and the youth league for the manner in which it has conducted itself in the past few months. You were reported to have said that even president Mbeki never lambasted the youth league in public. This is unprecedented.

What confuses me though Juju is that you repeatedly lambast senior ANC officials in public yet you don’t want the same courtesy extended to you. Barbara Hogan case in point and many more. Why can’t senior ANC officials do unto you in public what you would do unto them? It only seems fair to me. Excuse my naivety on this issue.

The much-reported verbal tirade you dished out at the BBC journalist caused you, the party and the country much embarrassment. I was not upset that you addressed the journalist’s attitude towards you, what upset me was the manner in which you did it. Your reaction was exactly how some in the British press wanted to portray you, an unruly hooligan. You walked right into the trap. Of course you apologised for your behaviour later. But still, you can’t take back what happened. You can’t erase it. It’s all over YouTube.

There have been suggestions that you are nothing but a puppet and are being used by people with special interests within the ruling party. Are you aware of this? If so, do you think that is indeed the case? Do you think that these people would throw you under the bus if they think that you have become nothing but an embarrassment to them? What will happen to you once you are no longer useful to them? Can you really trust them?

I am not really blaming you for being the way you are, I am blaming us South Africans for allowing you to be the way you are. You are not the travesty, we are. Many have started even calling you a joke. You are not. We are. You should be laughing all the way to wherever it is that you laugh to.