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Here Be Squalls: Navigating ANCYL dullard-speak

Why do people hate Julius Malema so? I’m honestly perplexed. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I don’t love him. Do you see me in a JZ shirt, baying out mshini wami outside the ‘Maritzburg High Court, sweat dripping from beneath my Dickies taxi-boy keppie, scuffed ankles and once-white All Stars straining as I give the toyi-toyi my all? Can you imagine me sporting a gold tooth? I’d make an awful Young Lion. For one thing, I shower every day.

Hate. That’s a powerful emotion. And South Africa clearly hates Malema. A wasted emotion if you ask me, considering the guy’s about as harmless as a hamster waving a toothpick aloft in a bit of a strop. And as far as we can tell, he’s yet to carry off anyone’s sister (Malema’s in-laws, I shudder for you).

I think Julius and his entire following of degenerates, louts and scoundrels are a joke. They’re nothing more than an extravagant flourish of the painter’s brush on the messy painting that is South African society. An extra wart on the warthog’s face. A hole in the underwear were none should be. Something to point out to your friends in the street so you can all laugh.

Of course, it wasn’t always so. Like everyone else, there was a point when I was introduced to ANCYL public utterances. In my case though, it wasn’t by a press release or sound bite that I got to know of the youth league. It was a large pair of fleshy bottoms plastered across the front page of the otherwise austere Mail & Guardian, happily mooning the photographer, and subsequently the entire country, at the ANC Youth League elections in 2008. Julius had arrived. “This is not your youth league, Mbalula,” he noted. “You led a different youth league. You did not have to deal with naked people at your congress. Our youth league congress has naked people all over the place, yours didn’t!” Assaulted by this Neanderthal form of politics, I quickly got over the shock phase, and settled in the bemused interest to await further entertainment.

How else is one to deal with Julius massively declaring: “We are prepared to take up arms and kill for Zuma!” (Can you imagine Julius brandishing a disembowelling cutlass? If it were a Dolce&Gabbana, maybe.)

The excellent news, at least from my perspective as cynical observer, is that the ANC Youth League is a vast mine of onanistic knobbery. Julius isn’t the only potty mouth around. For the most outrageous statements, you have to walk right past Julius and arrive at one Nyiko Floyd Shivambu, the official youth league spokesperson. This guy literally outmuscles his more famous leader when it comes to insults. His press statements are the stuff of legends. Take this for example:

The African National Congress Youth League condemns the sick, disgusting and terrible report about Chivas’ Regal’s relationship with the ANC Youth League. The sick and confused Saturday Star Journalist who wrote the story did not even call the ANC Youth League to verify the truthfulness of such a claim, yet went ahead to write a story that implicates our organisation.

The ANC Youth League has never entered into any alcohol related partnership with any alcohol company and will never do it. If there is anyone who has a close partnership with Chivas Regal, it is the drunkard Journalist, Kashiefa Ajam and the editorial team of Saturday Star who consume lots of alcohol and forget to contact the ANC Youth League when lies are spread about our organisation. The Saturday Star and entire Independent Newspapers should not use the name of the ANC Youth League to promote alcohol through spreading of disgusting lies in their lousy Newspaper.

Or this, aimed at Nicky Oppenheimer for daring to suggest that Minerals and Energy Minister Susan Shabangu was correct in asserting that the mines would never be nationalised:

It is totally dishonest and criminal for Nicky Oppenheimer to say he agrees with the misleading statements of Susan Shabangu that Mines will not be nationalised in her lifetime. By saying Mines will not be nationalised in her lifetime, Susan Shabangu Is referring to her lifetime as a Minister of Minerals, because we doubt if she will be a Minister for that a very long time. De Beers is a Mining partnership with the governments of Botswana, Namibia and Canada, yet seems to be refusing that the people of South Africa benefit from mining of diamond. De Beers is an inconsistent and immoral, inhuman corporation, whose development and growth was at the expense of many Africans’ innocent lives. De Beers super-exploited African labourers through forced cheap labour and for many years sponsored the conquest of the African majority by the white minorities. De Beers operated in South Africa during apartheid and basically sponsored the murderous, destructive and racist actions of the colonial/apartheid repressive regime. If there is ever any corporation that has to be remorseful and understand that the people of South Africa should share in the country’s wealth, it is De Beers.

Brave thoughts. Bold insight. The really weird thing here is that you can’t find these brilliant missives on the ANCYL’s website (yes, there’s a website). I spent two afternoons trawling through their site, looking for Floyd’s little gems and came up quite empty-handed. What I did find there was quite telling. I’ll say this first to get it out the way — yes, the site is unspeakably horrible. I can’t decide whether it’s the cat-diarrhoea-yellow background or the Mao-style, newspaper-clipping, grinning portraits of youth league comrade leaders, past and present that were so off-putting. Or maybe it was just Julius’s flared, five-cent nostrils that galled. In any case, ugh! There’s even a little poll there: Should the mines be nationalised, the money must a) Pay for the education of poor students only b) Fund the education of all students, regardless of background. Oh good, because for a moment there I thought Tokyo Sexwale’s offspring wouldn’t qualify. And I think Numsa would want to have a word …

I thought I’d hit pay dirt when I noticed the President’s Blog. Julius blogs! Surely this would be the home of youth league invective. Alas, it was not so. It was painfully obvious that the blog was written by someone else, probably some deluded and harassed young comrade — not your sister, I hope. The President’s Blog was a major disappointment (speaking of which, did you know Debora Patta blogs? I didn’t bother. What wonderful company we bloggers are in). Even the smileys, provided for the commentator’s convenience, were boring. No middle-finger smiley? No suspiciously brown blob? Yawn.

Relief was nary to be found, not even on “I am Julius Sello Malema … it is widely known that woodwork is not one of my strengths.” What, understatement from the master of bluster? It must be fake. In fact, even the Twitter account is fake. THE ANCYL CONDEMN the sick and disgusting fake Twitter of Comrade Julius by racist pig dogs!

I was eventually directed, irony of ironies — by a very white and counterrevolutionary Chris Roper, to a Google group where the youth league’s public statements were issued. You can’t help but wonder why Floyd’s invective has been relegated to a rather oinkish Google group, as if it were a gathering place for Joburg’s Ford Sierra enthusiasts, who would obviously be too hairy-chested for a Facebook group, rather than a collection of scribbles from South Africa’s shrillest spokesperson. Is it subtle recognition by the last bright spark left in the YL that Floyd’s penmanship really stinks and belongs outside in the trash?

You should sign up for their releases. It’s a laugh a minute, and best of all you don’t have to examine Floyd’s fury through the prism of some stuffy reporter. It’s raw, unadulterated Floydism — the best of Malema’s yappy little lapdog.

The invective is bound to get even more acidic now that Malema’s pants have really come off. The revelations of his lavish lifestyle are really hurting his image, not to you and me, but to his true support base, the jilted youth of South Africa. Malema’s power lies in being their true voice within the ANC. Should it come to light that his houses, clothes and cars are being bankrolled by the ANC, it’ll put a serious dent in that image. The picture is much the same if it emerges that he’s financed by lucrative government tenders. He’ll lose touch with his constituency. He’s in serious trouble and I anticipate he’ll react in the only way he knows, by lashing out viciously. In fact, it appears that SARS is his next target. Not a clever move, that. The ANC knows that SARS is the goose that lays the golden eggs. Should it come to choosing between Julius and big, taxpayer-funded cars, I don’t think the comrades will hesitate for even a second.

I’m glad Malema, Shivambu and the other prize geniuses at the ANCYL exist. Contrary to Khaya Dlanga‘s assertion that “the problem with listening to some of the things that he says leaves one stupider for having heard them”, I believe Malema cuts a hugely comical but useful figure in a political arena that lacks a sense of humour. Imagine a South Africa without our Pedi Tenderpreneur Comrade — we’d be left with nothing to talk about except for our Glorious Comrade President’s conjugal conquests, Dianne Kohler Barnard’s foul mouth and the latest shade of grey in Gwede Mantashe’s goatee.

I relish the times that lie ahead. I hope SARS, the media and others squeeze Julius hard. Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of furious youth league invective!

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  • Sipho Hlongwane

    Sipho Hlongwane is a journalist and columnist for the Daily Maverick. He is an avid fan of jelly beans, Top Gear, Arsenal and thinks that South Africans tend to take themselves a little too seriously. [email protected]