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Notice where the ANC drew the line on Malema?

I know you’ve had enough of reading about Julius, but this one is different. Promise. Because it’s a bit of good news at last!

Earlier today, the ANC issued a statement condemning the behaviour of Youth League President Julius Malema at a press conference yesterday towards BBC journalist Jonah Fisher.

Malema called Fisher, amongst other things, a bastard, a bloody agent, “this thingy” and a small boy. He also said what the journalist had covered in his trousers was rubbish. Yep. When in doubt, go for your opponent on his studio.

Also included in the ANC statement was a generous tongue-lashing against Malema for statements he made at the same press briefing, with regards to Zimbabwe.

The interesting bit of the statement goes thus:

The ANC would also like to strongly disagree and distance itself from utterances by the ANCYL 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 under way, 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 MDCs and Zanu-PF) implementing the spirit and the letter of the Global Political Agreement. It is therefore our view that the ANCYL’s expression of support for one party in Zimbabwe goes against our country’s and President Zuma’s mediation efforts in that country.

Very telling, don’t you think? The ANC has finally drawn the line on Malema. Not, as it turns out, when he fiercely attacked the local media (thought the ANC did allow that Juju’s behaviour was untoward and reflected negatively on the organisation). Not when he maligned opposition members. Not when he made statements that could cause further harm to rape victims. No.

Julius Malema crossed the line when he went to Zimbabwe, cosied up to Mugabe and seriously mucked up President Jacob Zuma’s mediation efforts there.

President Jacob Zuma has been appointed by the Southern African Development Community as the mediator between the Zanu-PF and the MDC. It’s an unenviable task. The coalition government in Zimbabwe has been anything but coalesced. If Zuma were to fail in Zimbabwe, he would fail in his capacity as leader of the South African government. He would fail in his capacity as a SADC-appointed mediator. It would seriously dent his international influence, a position from which he’d never recover (this is Zuma, not Mbeki, remember).

That is the situation that Malema is going to put the ANC-led government into if they don’t rein him in. Which they now have. When I first heard that the ANC had distanced itself from Malema’s rant, I thought, “Stand by for a retraction of this statement after lunch”.

Let’s hope the ANC stand by their words. And thank goodness they’ve finally decided to do something about Juliarse.

Read the ANC’s full statement here.

Read a transcript of Malema’s exchange with Fisher here.

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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]