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There was an interesting editorial by Katharine Child yesterday on TimesLive, asking if Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema could be the next president of South Africa. She reflected on a talk by Harvard History professor Niall Ferguson at the Discovery Leadership Summit. Ferguson spoke of the most recent examples of populist votes, which saw surprising outcomes in the United Kingdom and America, both Brexit and Trump. Both campaigns were built on fear around immigration, growing inequality, and heightened corruption in the elites and political class, things Ferguson referred to in his talk. Malema’s current campaign is built on the same lines, his race-baiting, fear tactics are clear for all to see. The most recent examples highlighting the outcomes of such votes can be seen in South America, and more historically Adolf Hitler, all of which were short-lived. And off the back of Malema’s most recent comments, Gerhard Papenfus, the chief executive of the National Employer’s Association of South Africa, wrote a letter, calling on Malema to desist from going down Hitler’s race-baiting and genocidal path. Cape Messenger editor Donwald Pressly sums up the situation below, and Papenfus’ full letter follows. – Stuart Lowman
By Donwald Pressly*
Last week Julius Malema was doing his thing again. He said that he was NOT calling for the slaughter of whites “for now”. There was a qualification. That sort of means that a white slaughter – sending them off to the gas chambers or whatever – can happen later. Or is one missing something? Naturally there was an avalanche of negative reaction.
This week Gerhard Papenfus, the chief executive of the National Employers’ Association of South Africa, has written a heartfelt letter – another ‘open’ letter – to a high-ranking politician. This time it is Malema. A few months ago it was Mildred Oliphant.
Last week when Malema was appearing in court for alleged incitement of his followers to occupy vacant land, the Citizen reported that the EFF commander-in-chief said white people had no claim to the land. But he went on to say: “We are not going to slaughter white people…for now… the rightful owners of the land are black people. No white person is a rightful owner of the land her in South Africa and the whole of the African continent”. One can’t make it up!
The Citizen reported Kenny Kunene – once the co-founder of the EFF but now disaffected thankfully – as saying that he had been warning South Africa against Malema and his “hatred of white people” for years. Politics is a strange game. Former EFF MP and now national coordinator of the Black First Land First (BLF) movement Andile Mngxitama – who has also fallen out with Malema and was booted out of the parliamentary caucus – says Malema has sold out to “white monopoly capital”. Which of them is right or are they both wrong? Basically Mngxitama’s theory is that the Rupert family and the Oppenheimer family have bought Malema and his 24 other MPs in parliament. He suddenly is their puppy dog, their poodle. Thus, his change of heart, Mngxitama argues, in his attitude to President Jacob Zuma and the tender-preneur class in the ANC. Suddenly Malema supports Pravin Gordhan, the embattled finance minister, against the tender-preneur baddies. But Mngxitama, of course, doesn’t see a tender-preneur class. They are honourable black people doing business with government. The Guptas are the new Oppenheimers, the new Ruperts, simply doing business with government.
Kunene says that Malema told him in private – in the days when they were still talking to each other one supposes – that: “We should learn from the example of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, who was in partnership with (the United States of) America until he was strong enough to become an enemy of America.” Malema had told him that “we could learn from the example of Osama Bin Laden, who was trained by America to fight the Russians – he was equipped militarily by the CIA, but they only made him strong enough to become America’s greatest enemy”. Kunene told the Citizen that: “When he said he doesn’t want to slaughter white people… yet, that wasn’t a joke. That was the real Malema.”
Papenfus appears to agree with Kunene. Or at least that there is a danger of Malema becoming a Hitler. Papenfus said he had been contemplating for some time “whether to respond (in the form of a letter) to your (Malema’s) embittered remarks and reckless threats towards the white citizens of South Africa”. But Papenfus went ahead because he reminded himself “of the hate of a certain German leader and the people he so severely misled…Like you, this man also had great intellectual capabilities, he was extremely popular and admired for his leadership qualities. He knew how to get millions of people to respond to his misguided populist messages.”
“This man” – as Papenfus called him (he avoids referring to Hitler) – “had a particular hatred towards certain people. He consequently advocated a strategy to marginalise these people in every sphere imaginable”. In the German case the complete marginalising of those he hated so much “was not enough”. Seeing them suffering “did not satisfy his thirst for revenge… his hatred escalated, his rhetoric became more severe, and it eventually led to genocide”. One knows the rest of the story. “This leader”, after bringing “unimaginable hardship over Europe in less than a decade… committed suicide in 1945”.
Papenfus has identified the conundrum – the pickle within riddle – that is Malema. He asks that the good person stands up, assuming there is one. If that man in South Africa wants his followers to prosper, said Papenfus, then he (Malema) would advise them to follow the approach that the “peacemakers” will inherit the land, not those who lived by the sword. “If your energy is garnered in the right direction, you can make a remarkable and sustainable difference,” said Papenfus.
One suspects that Papenfus is right or is appealing to the right sentiment. That there is hope that Malema has a decent – and logical – side to him. Papenfus points out that Malema has said a contradictory thing about the land grab. He had also said that he would not “chase whites into the sea, but … give them a portion” (but it is unclear of what). It is, indeed, time for the real Malema to stand up and not talk in riddles, is it not? That is, of course, if there really is a good side to Malema.
- Donwald Pressly is editor of Cape Messenger
Open Letter to Julius Malema
by Gerhard Papenfus*
So Who’s Really Confused?
It’s been some time that I have been contemplating whether to respond in this manner to your embittered remarks and reckless threats towards the white citizens of South Africa. The question I was struggling with was whether you even deserve a response of this nature.
What caused me to write this letter to you is the fact that I reminded myself of the fate of a certain German leader and the people he so severely misled. Like you, this man also had great intellectual capabilities, he was extremely popular and admired for his leadership qualities. He knew how to get millions of people to respond to his misguided populist messages.
This man was very aggrieved and, as is the case with all embittered people, he thought that it was justified for him, not only to treasure those emotions, but also to convince others to feel the same way.
He had a particular hatred towards certain people. He consequently advocated a strategy to marginalise these people in every sphere imaginable. Destructive emotions, caused by bitterness, however always escalate and need to find a release. In the German case, the complete marginalising of those he hated so much, was not enough. Seeing them suffering did not satisfy his thirst for revenge. His hatred escalated, his rhetoric became more severe, and it eventually led to genocide. This leader, if one can call him that, after bringing unimaginable hardship over Europe in less than a decade, committed suicide in 1945.
Even today mentioning his name is almost a taboo in Germany. His ‘place’ cannot be found. His bunker (similar to where all violent people end up) is underneath an unpaved, uncared for parking lot in Berlin (and that is no coincidence – it is as if the ground above this bunker is cursed).
I’ve often wondered if nobody warned the Führer about the wrongfulness of the path he was embarking on. If there was, he did not listen. He was his own mentor, and he paid a severe price. Even those he ordered to be killed, had an easier end than him. Approaching his end, the millions who found him so exciting, were either dead or living in terrible circumstances. He was no hero anymore. He spent his last days in the horrific reality of his misguided dream.
You say to white people that they must not be confused. Since I’m white Mr Malema, I feel that, when saying this, you are addressing me. This and, of course, because of the many other nonsensical things you utter, I write to you because I think that it is not only us, but also you who are confused; very very confused.
When you say that you are not calling for ‘the slaughtering for white people, at least for now’, you select your words very carefully. Are you actually calling for their slaughtering, but not yet, or are you not calling for their slaughtering, yet? Are you only playing with the idea? Is that something that you want to see happen? If you think that this approach, leading your followers in this direction, will bring them ‘economic freedom’, you are very confused. Any person ever engaging in acts of this nature is guaranteed a life of submissiveness. A murderer does not have a heritage.
You cannot deny however that, by making this statement, you are planting a seed in the minds of your followers. Seeds, good or bad, grow and if this seed comes to fruition, this statement of yours might one day serve as evidence against you in the World Crimes Court. I can imagine somebody is already building a file.
You generously undertake ‘not to chase whites into the sea, but to give them ‘a portion’ – I am not sure of what. Mr Malema, you are really confused. You have an inflated estimation of yourself. It is not up to you, or those who share your misguided views, to decide what my ‘portion’ in this life might be. To the extent that you think you can do that, you have a perverse understanding of power and the responsibility that comes with it. And this does not apply to you only. It is not for man, any man, to randomly decide the fate of another man. Those that have endeavoured to do that, although temporarily and seemingly with success, always fail spectacularly. Those attempting this are always the ultimate losers. To this universal law there’s not a single exception, and you won’t be the first.
By the way, the ‘portions’ in this life that really count, are not just dished out by fellow human beings. There’s much much more to life than that.
Do you really think, sir, that just ‘taking’ land will break the shackles of poverty, let alone causing the people who believe in you to prosper? If you believe this you are severely confused. Land in itself does not bring any prosperity. It is the working of the land with knowledge, skill, perseverance, wisdom, and above all, the love of the land, that produces the fruit of the land. Without these qualities, the land gives you nothing. Just taking land is one thing; living off and prospering from it, is something else altogether. If you visit Zimbabwe (whose now outdated land policy you imitate) again, just go beyond the outskirts of Harare and you will find that out for yourself.
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) November 14, 2016
We take note that whites in general and white monopoly capital are your ultimate targets. To set this target for yourself is your right; yóú determine your own destiny by the extent to which you make good or bad decisions. I am not sure whether you have weighed everything up before you made this strategic call. Again I think that you are really confused: do you really think that this (marginalising of whites and even actions beyond that), will bring your followers ‘economic freedom’? Perhaps it is not economic freedom for others that you have in mind; perhaps it’s just a question of power and revenge.
You have set your sights on president Zuma. According to you, however, your primary strategic objective is whites and ‘white monopoly capital’. As a result of parliament’s failure to act against the president, you express the view that South Africa is no longer a constitutional democracy and you therefore call for the dissolution of parliament and early national elections. Ironically, in the same breath, you threaten to take land by ‘whatever means necessary’, in other words, with or without constitutional compliance.
You go even further: you make yourself guilty of the same constitutionally-hostile approach when you state that whites are only ‘visitors’ in South Africa; in other words people with less than full constitutional rights. Mr Malema, your view regarding this does not matter as it is complete and utter nonsense; however, it does illustrate who you really are. For you, Mr Malema, the constitution is of no value.
— Simon Masilo❤ (@SizorMasilo) November 14, 2016
While you demand constitutional compliance when it comes to the president (and make no mistake, I am no apologist for the president), you threaten to go outside the confines of the constitution when it comes to your strategic agenda, when it suits you. I am of the view that your current conduct inside and outside of parliament, where you create the appearance of fighting to protect the constitution, is purely opportunistic.
It is important for you to be aware of the fact that your understanding of the history of Africa is simply wrong. Maybe you know that, but prefer to present your own version of history. If that is so, that is dishonest. In any event, your take on history is misleading and dangerous.
There are those – and there are many of them – who do not take your utterances seriously, who in fact find you quite humorous. I am not one of them. The fact that you are an enemy of the president does not make you my friend. In fact, according to you, it’s not the president you’re after, it’s the ‘whites’ you’re after. I see you for what you are, according to how you define yourself, and I find very little humour or constructiveness in any of that.
There’s one thing that you need to know though. Amongst the people you so despise and who you so desperately want to ‘get to’, there is no fear when we see and hear your antics – of course there may be exceptions. We see it for what it is and we will appropriately deal with it, through God’s grace and His abundant provision, when the challenge presents itself. In the meantime, think very carefully about what you are doing. What you believe is in your favour now, might turn out to be your downfall; the many who follow and use you now, may one day, in disillusionment, turn against you. There isn’t necessarily strength in numbers alone. Leadership requires wisdom.
Mr Malema, a person who lives by the sword, eventually dies by the sword. This may not be good news to you, and you may not agree with it, but this universal law stands. Contrary to your thinking, it is the peacemakers who inherit the land. If you want your followers to prosper, I suggest you advise them to follow this approach. You have so much going for you and you are blessed with so many outstanding qualities – that is if your energy is garnered in the right direction, you can make a remarkable and sustainable difference.
- This open letter is by Gerhard Papenfus, Chief Executive of the National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA). He wrote this in his personal capacity.
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