South Africa’s Julius Malema, the firebrand leader of the ANC’s Youth League, has admitted his political career is “finished” after his suspension from the ruling party for breaking its internal rules, a newspaper reported on Sunday.
The Sunday Times said Malema, the main force behind a push to nationalize mines and banks in Africa’s biggest economy, had decided to go into cattle farming.
“I have 20 cattle now,” he told the paper. “We will breed them, take them to the abattoir, slaughter them and then sell the meat. Now I am finished politically. They are saying I am suspended and all that.”
Malema was given a bull and 20 cows as a gift by Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono, when he visited the country in April last year.
He told the Sunday Times: “I have not collected them because I had to find a place where I would put those cattle.”
The African National Congress (ANC) suspended Malema for five years earlier this month for causing rifts in the party and undermining foreign policy by calling for the overthrow of the elected government of neighboring Botswana.
He lodged an appeal against the ruling last Thursday, but he is not optimistic about the outcome.
“I am not this religious person who believes that some intervention will come from heaven. I have looked at the trends. I have listened to the speeches. They are all pointing in one direction,” he was quoted as saying.
But he said he was “not going to leave without putting up a fight”.
He looked tired during the interview and declined to be photographed, the paper added.
The 30-year-old rose to prominence with calls to seize white-owned farm land and nationalize mines in the world’s largest platinum producer, alarming investors.
The calls also won him legions of supporters from the country’s poor black majority, who hope to see more wealth from the land and also envision him as a future leader.
Malema’s absence from the political scene is also likely to smooth President Jacob Zuma’s path to re-election as head of the ANC — and therefore a second term in office — at a major party congress in a year’s time.
While the youth league has made clear its preferences for Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Sports Minister Mbalula to take over from Zuma and ANC secretary- general Gwede Mantashe, respectively, he denied that the league had actively campaigned for them.
And while his days may be dark, Malema insists that friends are not few. Chief among them is Limpopo premier and his mentor, Cassel Mathale.
“He came to counsel me and told me I have no reason to worry. We must continue to soldier on. Our relationship has gone beyond politics. We are now family, and I think if there is anything that I need for assistance and intervention, they are there.”
He said his other friends included ANC NEC member Tony Yengeni and Mbalula. But, he said, his key ally, Minister of Human Settlements Tokyo Sexwale, who spoke on his behalf during his disciplinary hearing, “is not my friend – he is my leader”.
He expressed similar sentiments about Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who also spoke in his defence, saying: “Mama Winnie is not my friend, but my leader.”
Ever defiant, he again insisted that there was a “predetermined” political agenda to deal with him and his youth league leadership.
“Others could no longer hold back their irritation. Others were no longer able to tolerate us, but others just feared change. Change in policy [and] change in leadership. And even when you didn’t say, ‘I want to remove you,’ just through their imagination, they think you want to remove them.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you want to reassure them, ‘No, chief, we do not want to remove you.’ No, they have concluded.”
Of the corruption charges against him being investigated by the Hawks and another probe by the public protector into his business dealings, Malema said he was unfazed.
In fact, he said, they offered him an opportunity to identify who his enemies were.
“I actually liked that investigation – because it is going to help me to identify these people. You know, it is not good to live a life in fear, as you are told that people close to you say this [and] say that. Then you are going to suspect everything close to you – including your grandmother … so it helps me to identify these people. And know what I am in [for].”
Source: New Zimbabwe