Let’s not demonize our challengers: a powerful message from William Mpofu

Should all Africans become like Egyptians when it comes to challenging leaders? This is a fundamental question I ask to anyone out there working for change on the African continent.  In less than a year, Egypt and its people are again showing to the rest of the world that masses are tired of being continuously lied to by politicians.

Most politicians if not all are liars. Is Sarkozy less of a liar than Netanyahu, though he treated the latter of being one in a leaked conversation with Obama? You tell me. But this is not about these three, but about South African politics. If one remembers, when Mandela was freed from prison and his country ended Apartheid rule, many in South Africa and the rest of the world, believed strongly in a new era where victims of the discriminative system would harvest in a reasonable period of time the benefits of such change.

Julius Malema, the leader of ANCYL, and a significant fraction of his compatriots don’t think that much has effectively changed since then. For his frank-speaking over issues affecting South Africans and other Africans elsewhere, that officials in ANC leadership cannot address effectively, he has been publicly demonised. The following article from William Mpofu writing in The Sowetan pleads for his defence.

Demonising Malema not a good move

The shocking wild celebration of the punishment of Julius Malema, the criminalisation of his important political discourses and demonis ation by the media in South Africa and beyond are a spectacularly painful paradox that compares to the celebration of the collective funeral of the poor in Africa.

The widespread obsession with Malema’s alleged twisted business dealings and rejection of his message about addressing economic and social inequalities between the blacks and whites in South Africa is a loud example of how, in Africa, we major in minor issues and vice versa – a graphic sample of chasing mosquitoes with machine guns while monsters abound.

So much dust of hateful words and blind condemnation of Malema and his political message has been raised to cloud the important truths that the young leader stands for. Malema’s call for the nationalisation of mines and the restoration of fertile farm lands to the poor blacks in South Africa is a grave message that deserves rigorous debate not condemnation and silencing.

One only needs to view and listen to brave British journalist John Pilger’s documentary,Apartheid Did not Die, to witness the sad truth that blacks in South Africa only gained political independence and a colourful flag in 1994. Economic power still remains in the hands of the white minority and a few black tokens and black-white fronts.

In rubbishing Malema, calling him an unthinking idiot and ridiculing his message as racism, South Africans are doing the homework for their enemies and exploiters by participating in their own economic and political burial.

Pilger chronicles clearly how the heroic Nelson Mandela and his compatriots in secret negotiations with the apartheid regime bargained away black economic rights, resulting in compromised independence. Whites in South Africa remain the captains of the economy while blacks are still the servants.

This painful reality and injustice is protected by use of sentimentalities of reconciliation and national unity expressed in the largely wishful slogan about a rainbow nation.

For pointing out this criminal injustice of inequality that is perfumed with slogans to smell like reconciliation and national unity we have rewarded Malema with insults and the ANC has led Africa away from the truth about him by projecting him as a rebel without a cause, when in actuality it is the ANC which has conspired with vampiric apartheid capitalism that continue to sentence the black people to abject poverty and economic marginality.

When Malema criticised the oppressive government of General Ian Khama in Botswana and threatened forceful solidarity with the political opposition in that country, he was not shooting in the dark but grabbing a troublesome bull by the horns. Botswana has a bigger population of goats than that of human beings within its diamond rich borders, but the majority of the people are wallowing in poverty and diseases.

We learnt with shock from Wikileaks cables that Khama begged the Americans to establish a military base in Botswana that would be the centre of the American military signature in Southern Africa.

For describing this as conspiracy with imperialism and militating against African interests, Malema has been viciously punished with a suspension by the ANC.

In challenging the dictatorial and indeed puppet regime in Botswana, Malema is doing what SADC and the African Union have failed to do in Africa – to deal ruthlessly with dictators and to practice zero intolerance to tyranny and puppetry in Africa.

The reason why Nato, led by America and France, used the excuse of protecting civilians to invade Libya, assist the capture and humiliating murder of Muammar Gaddafi is because the AU and SADC failed to discipline Gaddafi and protect civilians in Libya.

As a result, America and France now have access to the bounty of oil that lies under the feet of the Libyans.

For championing a home grown approach of tackling tyranny and puppetry in Africa by directly confronting a dictatorial and visibly puppet regime that has not liberated itself from the colonial hangover of being a British protectorate, Malema is being persecuted and punished for allegedly bringing the good name of the ANC into disrepute.

The question is for how long will the ANC keep its good name in Africa and maintain its exalted role as a democratic party and government, when it works over time to protect tyrants, puppets and genocidists among African leaders?

By dealing with dictators with kids gloves and cushioning puppet regimes from opposition, the ANC is sleeping on duty as a government that is well positioned to provide leadership in finding African solutions for African political problems without fear or favour. On the altar of diplomacy and good reputations, the political and economic aspirations of the ordinary people of Africa are being sacrificed by those who are well positioned to preserve and protect them.

Africans must sober up to the truth that if Malema, in all his youthful wildness, is to be allowed to sink, he sinks with the hopes and dreams of millions of poor and marginalised people of Africa.

The revolutionary assignment that freedom fighters like Mandela, Chris Hani, Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba and Joshua Nkomo did not finish must be vigorously pursued to its logical conclusion by radical youths of Africa, not compromised elders who are now too tired to man the trenches in the war for economic freedom and distributive justice.

As Africans, when we demonise Malema and collapse his grave political and economic message to nonsense, while we comfort ourselves with the false judgment that he is an idiot, we are only being the proverbial chickens that faithfully prayed for the arrival of Christmas, a day on which they were slaughtered en masse.

William Mpofu is a media, journalism and public relations consultant

Source: The Sowetan

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