Malema on why and how Zuma became president

The political raison d’être of colourful EFF leader Julius Malema is to be a constant thorn in President Jacob Zuma’s side. It’s wasn’t always so. There was a time when Zuma had Malema’s undying support. So much so, Malema even declared himself willing to kill for Zuma, although he says he never meant it literally, and the two have ‘never been close’. In an earlier interview with BizNews’ Tim Modise, Malema said Zuma suffers from a ‘poverty of ideas’. Here in a talk at the Daily Maverick Gathering in Midrand, Malema gives his version of how and why Zuma got elected in the first place, and for the constant feuding now. As usual, it makes entertaining reading. For more insight on the subject, you’re likely to also enjoy Rian Malan’s excellent think-piece: Malema – behind the red overalled facade. – Marika Sboros

By Genevieve Quintal

Julius MalemaJohannesburg,  News24 – Jacob Zuma was only elected president of the ANC because no one else was willing to stand up against then president Thabo Mbeki, EFF leader Julius Malema claimed on Thursday.

“In the absence of the best, he became the best,” Malema said to loud claps and cheers from the crowd.

“That’s how he became president.”

He was answering questions at the Daily Maverick Gathering in Midrand, Johannesburg about why he said he would kill for Zuma and what caused the fallout between the two of them.

Malema defended his decision at the time to support Zuma, by saying it was because of his loyalty to the Constitution which Mbeki was willing to compromise.

He said he never meant it literally when he said he would kill for Zuma, and to this day did not regret supporting him.

“I supported Zuma and I still don’t regret supporting him to be president of the ANC against President Mbeki.

“Not because President Mbeki was a bad president. President Mbeki was going to compromise the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa because he wanted to go for a third term as the president of the ANC… and the possibility of such was that he was going to amend the Constitution of the republic to give him a third term.

Challenge Mbeki

“So my loyalty has always been with the Constitution of South Africa more than with political parties and individuals,” Malema explained.

This was why the African National Congress had to replace Mbeki, he claimed.

The party then started looking at who could challenge Mbeki.

“…They all went under the table and then this one [Zuma], this one said he can challenge President Mbeki and for opportunistic reasons.

“Because one, the man knew he was going to jail so he has nothing to lose. But if he becomes the president he has more to gain. So he weighed his options…Then he said I’m here to challenge president Mbeki.”

Mbeki fired Zuma as deputy president of the country in 2005 after he was implicated in the corruption trial of his former financial advisor Schabir Shaik.

Zuma became president of the ANC at the party’s 2007 Polokwane elective conference.

In 2008, the ANC decided to recall Mbeki as president of the country and in 2009 the National Prosecuting Authority dropped all charges against Zuma.

Speaking about his fallout with Zuma, Malema on Thursday said it was shortly after the Polokwane conference that he and the ANC Youth League, which he was leading at the time, realised Zuma was not going to drive forward policies decided on by the party.

“We fell out because the Polokwane conference took very clear positions amongst others to reject the 1996 class project, and it was turning the ANC into a complete right organisation and we on the left believed that the emergence of Jacob Zuma with Gwede [Mantashe] as secretary general will reposition the ANC to be an organisation of the left.

No change

“Zuma immediately after Polokwane said nothing is going to change and I asked myself if this man was in the same conference where we were saying change.

“He thought change we mean him? We did not, we meant policy.”

Malema claimed that when Zuma started telling people, especially the international community that nothing was going to change, he realised there was a problem.

“So we knew that what we thought we had achieved in Polokwane is … not there.”

He said the ANC under Zuma had not followed through with a number of policies which were aimed at radical economic transformation.

Malema said Zuma was only meant to serve one term as president.

“Zuma thought we were playing… we said this is the programme of action and we need the leadership that is committed to implementing this programme of action when Zuma is not such a leader who can carry forward this struggle and we told him that.

“We said don’t think you are a better person to carry this agenda forward and secondly, by the way, we agreed that you must serve one term.”

Malema claimed that when Zuma realised they were going to remove him as president he decided to remove them first.

“That is how I fell out of favour with him. I was not saying anything bad to him. I was saying to him we agreed on one term, and secondly I don’t think you are capable of driving the agenda for radical economic transformation.

“So there is nothing personal between me and Msholozi. We have never been close.”

Malema was expelled from the ANC in 2012, just a few months before the party’s Mangaung elective conference where Zuma was elected for a second term.


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