|Commander-in-Chief of the Economic Freedom Fighters|
Assumed office |
|Preceded by||Office established|
|President of the ANC Youth League|
April 2008 – April 2012
|Vice President||Andile Lungisa, Ronald Lamola|
|Preceded by||Fikile Mbalula|
Julius Sello Malema|
3 March 1981
Seshego, Limpopo Province, South Africa
African National Congress (1990–2012)|
Economic Freedom Fighters (2013–present)
|Spouse(s)||Mantwa Matlala (m. 2016)|
|Parents||Flora Mahlodi Malema|
|Alma mater||University of South Africa|
Julius Sello Malema (born 3 March 1981) is the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, a South African political party, which he founded in July 2013. He previously served as President of the African National Congress Youth League from 2008 to 2012. Malema was a member of the ANC until his expulsion from the party in April 2012. He occupies a notably controversial position in South African public and political life, having risen to prominence with his support for African National Congress president, and later President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma. He has been described by both Zuma and the Premier of Limpopo Province as the "future leader" of South Africa. Less favourable portraits paint him as a "reckless populist" with the potential to destabilise South Africa and to spark racial conflict.
Malema was convicted of hate speech in March 2010 and again in September 2011. In November 2011 he was found guilty of sowing divisions within the ANC and, in conjunction with his two-year suspended sentence in May 2010, was suspended from the party for five years. In 2011, he was also convicted of hate speech after singing "Dubula iBunu" ("Shoot the Boer"). On 4 February 2012 the appeal committee of the African National Congress announced that it found no reason to "vary" a decision of the disciplinary committee taken in 2011, but did find evidence in aggravation of circumstances, leading them to impose the harsher sentence of expulsion from the ANC.
On 25 April 2012 Malema lost an appeal to have his expulsion from the ANC overturned; as this exhausted his final appeal, his expulsion took immediate effect. In September 2012 he was charged with fraud and money-laundering.
He appeared before the Polokwane Magistrates Court in November 2012 to face these charges, plus an additional charge of racketeering. The case was postponed until 23 April 2013, and then again to 20 June. The State scheduled the trial for 18 to 29 November 2013.
Malema, a Pedi, was born and grew up in Seshego, Transvaal Province. His mother was a domestic worker and a single parent. He joined the African National Congress's Masupatsela at the age of nine or ten. His main task at the time, was to remove National Party posters.
Early political career
Malema was elected a chairman of the Youth League branch in Seshego and the regional chairman in 1995. In 1997 he became the chairman of the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) for the Limpopo province, and was elected as the national president of that organisation in 2001. In 2002, Malema led a Cosas march by school pupils, through Johannesburg; the march was marked by incidents of violence and looting.
Election as leader of ANC Youth League
Malema was elected as the president of the ANC Youth League in April 2008, receiving 1,833 votes to Saki Mofokeng's 1,696 votes. The election – and the conference – were characterised by intimidation, fraud and which Malema himself later described as "unbecoming conduct". The integrity of his election has been criticised and questioned.
Malema was later re-elected unopposed for a second term on 17 June 2011 at Gallagher Estate in Midrand when Lebogang Maile, the only opposing nominee, declined the nomination.
September 2009 Nedbank controversy
In September 2009 Malema threatened to mobilize people to withdraw their Nedbank accounts after the bank decided to withdraw its sponsorship from Athletics South Africa (ASA). Although Nedbank argued that the decision was made after dissatisfaction with the delivery of previous events, Malema suggested the withdrawal was related to current controversy around ASA's President Leonard Chuene, who admitted he had been informed about the gender test which concluded that athletic Caster Semenya is a hermaphrodite, but neglected to withdraw her from the World Championships where she won a gold medal.
Malema criticized the Deputy Sport Minister Gert Oosthuizen who had called for Chuene's resignation. Malema argued that there is no concept of a hermaphrodite in Pedi culture, something he called "imposed on us by the imperialists" and said he did not understand Chuene's apology.
"For what? Apologising for protecting one of our own? Apologizing to fight for this woman to participate in the World Championships?' We wouldn't have apologised if it was us. There's no apology."
April 2010 Zimbabwe visit
On 3 April 2010, Malema visited Zimbabwe, in what was described as a visit on indigenisation. He was expected to meet Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. Upon landing in Harare, Malema was greeted by Zanu-PF supporters as well as Zimbabwe's Youth and Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, and ZANU-PF Youth Chairman Absolom Sikhosana, as well as Zimbabwean business figures who had risen to prominence in recent years.
Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwean Prime Minister, condemned Malema's visit, after Malema criticised Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). During the visit, he described Tsvangirai as an ally of "imperialists", and called for the Mugabe-style seizure of mines and farms in South Africa (see below).
Youth organisations in Zimbabwe criticised Malema's visit, citing his controversial racial statements and alleged corruption. Malema's comments during the visit sparked fears that South Africa would follow Zimbabwe's chaotic land reform example. Malema also blamed the MDC for introducing political violence to Zimbabwe, and defended Robert Mugabe's political and human rights record. Upon Malema's return from Zimbabwe, the ANC Youth league released a statement praising Mugabe and Zimbabwe's land seizures. It called on young black South Africans to follow the example of young people in Zimbabwe and to engage in agriculture in order to reduce their dependence on white farmers.
Malema's visit came while President Zuma was trying to broker a political settlement in Zimbabwe, and reportedly caused concern among ANC officials, but Zuma himself reportedly blessed the visit. The ANC, however, in a later statement distanced itself from the ANC Youth League's electoral support of ZANU-PF.
Incident involving BBC journalist
On 8 April 2010, at a Johannesburg media briefing covering his visit to Zimbabwe, Malema was involved in an incendiary incident with Jonah Fisher, a BBC journalist. Malema had been criticising the Movement for Democratic Change for having offices in affluent Sandton, when BBC journalist Jonah Fisher commented that Malema himself lived in Sandton. Malema lashed out at Fisher after the latter dismissed Malema's comments as rubbish.
Malema was unapologetic and accused Fisher of being disrespectful, and of coming from a country [the UK] which Malema claimed had undermined the credibility and integrity of African leaders. After the incident Malema said he expected an apology from Fisher. However, the next day, the ANC issued a statement condemning Malema's actions during the news conference.
On 10 April 2010, at a news conference in Durban, where he characterised Malema's conduct as "alien to the ANC", President Jacob Zuma publicly criticised Malema's behaviour saying "the manner in which a BBC journalist was treated at an ANC Youth League press conference is regrettable and unacceptable, regardless of any alleged provocation on his part", and said he had spoken to Malema about his conduct by telephone. Malema remained defiant after Zuma's rebuke.
Disciplinary procedures by ANC
- Malema's endorsement of Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party during his visit to Zimbabwe, at a time when President Zuma was trying to broker a negotiated settlement in the country,
- A controversial incident between Malema and a BBC journalist
- Malema's comments on the murder of Eugène Terre'Blanche
- Malema's unfavorable comparison of Zuma to his predecessor Thabo Mbeki, after Zuma called a press conference reprimanding Malema.
Malema faced a "hostile" disciplinary committee on 3 May 2010. On 11 May 2010, Malema entered into a plea bargain, and three of the charges against him were dropped (the attack on the BBC journalist, his endorsement of Mugabe, and his singing of "Shoot the Boer" after it was banned). He pleaded guilty to criticising Zuma after Zuma publicly censured him, and was ordered by the disciplinary committee to make a public apology for his conduct, fined R10 000 to be donated to a youth development project, and to attend anger management classes. He was also warned of suspension from the ANC if he re-offended within two years. Malema complied, apologising "unconditionally", stating that he accepted that his "conduct and public utterances should at all times reflect respect and restraint".
Nationalisation and land redistribution
Malema became a vocal advocate of nationalising South African mines. Although the ANC, including Mining Minister Susan Shabangu, and President Zuma, made it clear that this was not ANC policy, Malema has continued to advocate this position. His opinions on nationalisation are shared by South Africa's large National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). At a public meeting at the University of Western Cape, Malema asked: "Why should we pay for our land?"
He then advocated the return of land without compensation and the removal of the "willing buyer, willing seller" principle. At a 16 June Youth Day celebration, Malema accused white South Africans of "stealing land" and again advocated for the redistribution of land without compensation. In April 2010 Malema led a youth delegation to Venezuela to study that country's nationalisation programme.
Other activities as Youth League president
Malema campaigned enthusiastically for the ANC in the April 2009 elections. However, he was asked to leave Port Elizabeth's Dora Nginza Hospital after the head of the hospital noticed him and 20 other ANC members campaigning in the wards. In an apparent effort to reach the new youth, Malema began visiting schools. These visits were criticised by Deputy President of South Africa, and of the ANC, Kgalema Motlanthe for being disruptive to education.
In early 2010, Malema urged ANC Youth League members to join the South African National Defence Force, and said that there were plans for the Youth League leadership to join the reservist programme. The military training was confirmed in May 2010, with the naval training due to commence in September 2010.
In March 2010, in what was widely held to be a rebuke of Malema, the ANC's National Executive Committee (NEC) lashed out at the "new culture of public feuds, insults and personal attacks" and adopted a policy of disciplining those who became involved in public disputes with members of the governing ANC-SACP-COSATU alliance.
Malema's bid for a second term as Youth League president received a boost in 2010 when a number of Eastern Cape ANC Youth League regional conferences in the Eastern Cape elected candidates remained loyal to him, although there were some allegations of irregularities from Malema's opponents.
In Malema's home province of Limpopo, a fiercely contested race for the Youth League presidency had been expected. The Limpopo meeting experienced vigorous discussion, on occasion degenerating into violence. Malema's rivals and journalists were reportedly ejected by police, at the behest of Malema.
Disciplinary review by ANC
On 30 August 2011 Malema was subjected to a disciplinary hearing by the ANC. His supporters held a rally in the center of Johannesburg that turned into a violent confrontation. Some protesters held placards with slogans like "South Africa for blacks only", which caused many disapproving reactions from the black community. Malema submitted an application to have all charges against him revoked. The ANC National Disciplinary Committee (NDC) met on 31 August 2011 and 1 September to deliberate on this application. The ruling was delivered at 9:00 a.m. on 2 September 2011. The NDC dismissed Malema’s application to have the charges quashed.
On 10 November 2011, Malema was found guilty of contravening Rules 25.5(c) and (i) of the ANC Constitution for expressing views at a press conference of the ANC Youth League on 31 July 2011 "which sought to portray the ANC government and its leadership under President Zuma in a negative light in relation to the African agenda and which had the potential to sow division and disunity in the ANC, and for expressing his personal views on Botswana which contravened ANC policy." Malema stated that his league would establish a "Botswana command team", which would work towards uniting all opposition forces in Botswana to oppose what he had called the puppet regime led by the Botswana Democratic Party. Malema was suspended from the ANC for five years.
Convictions handed down by the National Disciplinary Committee to ANC Youth League leaders were upheld by an appeals committee on Saturday, 4 February 2012. As a result, Malema was stripped of his title and party membership. The NDC was instructed by the National Disciplinary Committee of Appeal (NDCA) to hear evidence in mitigation and aggravation of sanction in the cases involving Floyd Shivambu, Sindiso Magaqa, and Malema.
On 29 February 2012, the National Disciplinary Committee, chaired by Derek Hanekom, announced the results of their review from Luthuli House. In their statement the NDC characterised the relationship between the ANC and the three respondents as "contractual in nature", bound by a "membership oath". It goes on to state that the respondents "were fully aware of the provisions of the ANC Constitution; they considered themselves bound by the ANC Constitution and they undertook to respect the ANC Constitution and its structures." The report characterised Malema as a repeat offender who was unrepentant and did not accept the findings of the disciplinary machinery of the ANC. Their conclusion in respect of Malema was:
"The NDC is of the view that if comrade Malema is not prepared to accept final decisions of the NDCA, then the likelihood of him respecting the ANC Constitution is remote." —point 74 of the report
The NDC expelled Malema from the ANC, ordered him to vacate his position as President of the ANC Youth League, but gave him leave to appeal to the NDCA against sanction within 14 days. On 24 April 2012 the appeal process ended when the NDCA confirmed his expulsion with immediate effect.
October 2012 Zimbabwe visit
Malema visited Zimbabwe in October 2012 to attend a wedding and to address the ZANU-PF Youth wing. Johannesburg's Mail and Guardian quoted the Zimbabwean Herald Online in a story, saying Malema had told the meeting: "He said the youths in South Africa were calling for whites to surrender land and minerals resources they hold because when they came from Europe they did not carry any land into South Africa."
What we are asking is for them to surrender our minerals because they did not come with any minerals. We want that land and those minerals for free because they never paid for those minerals.
Malema said whites had committed murder to get land.
Actually they killed people to get that land and those minerals. We are not going to give them money when we take the land back because it will be like we are thanking them with money for killing our people. We will never do that, little did they know that we are not scared of blood. We are scared of defeat. We don't want to be defeated but seeing blood is not what we are scared of as long as that blood delivers what belongs to us we are prepared to go to that extent.
Malema told the young people he was in Zimbabwe for inspiration so that when he returned home he could "double the spirit of fighting against imperialist forces". He called on black South Africans to have as many children as possible so as to increase dominance of 'our ideas' in the world at large and help catalyze world revolution.
We want to see many kids, why? Because we must reproduce ourselves. For our ideas to be sustainable, we have to reproduce ourselves. In the whole of Africa, we are not more than one billion and the world has seven billion people. In Africa we have not more than one billion people… facing more than six billion. We have to be half of that so that our ideas can dominate. I know that in some instances size does not matter… but when it comes to a revolution, size matters.
Economic Freedom Fighters
In June 2013 Malema started canvassing for his political party called the Economic Freedom Fighters. The South African president, at a meeting with the SA National Editors' Forum, stated that the ruling party does not see this development as a threat. While still on trial for money laundering and racketeering charges Malema started appealing for funds for the new political party.
Malema's visit to Nigerian 'Prophet' T.B. Joshua for 'spiritual blessings' in August 2013 with some EFF members also elicited controversy and media attention.
The EFF won 25 seats in the National Assembly in the 2014 general election. Malema was sworn in as a member of parliament on 21 May 2014. Malema was dismissed from the National Assembly on 19 June 2014 after refusing to withdraw a remark he made on 18 June 2014 accusing the ANC government of murdering the miners involved in the Marikana miners' strike.
Comments on Nkandla scandal
As an elected MP, Malema has been publicly critical of President Zuma, especially as regards the ANC leader's alleged corruption with respect to the Nkandla scandal. On 12 February 2015, Malema, together with other members of the EFF, was forcibly removed from the State of the Nation address, when Malema interrupted Zuma to question whether he would pay back part of the $23 million in taxpayer funds he used to build a private residence in Nkandla, Kwazulu-Natal. Malema responded to being ejected, suggesting South Africa had become, or was becoming, a police state.
Comments against the ANC
In an interview with the international news broadcaster Al Jazeera English and broadcast on 24 April 2016 Malema stated that should the ruling ANC continue to act violently against protests “we [the EFF] will remove this government through the barrel of a gun”. He went on to accuse the ANC of losing the 2014 elections in Gauteng province and rigging them so as to win. Following these remarks the ANC opened a case of treason with the South African Police Service against Malema for making the comments.
Involvement in state contracts
Reports regarding Malema's possible involvement in state tenders (contracts) began appearing in November 2009. Questions about his personal lifestyle were raised by the South African media. Some analysts suggest this is also known as being a tenderpreneur, which is the early emergence of a form of kleptocracy, or predatory behaviour by a clique in the ruling elite, to generate personal wealth by capturing resources.
In March 2010, addressing the allegations at a rally at a university campus, Malema, sang the struggle song "shoot the Boer" (see below), and lashed out at opposition politicians. He attacked COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. In August 2010, the Public Protector released a report which cleared Malema of involvement in state tenders in Limpopo. The report was received with scepticism in some quarters.
Threats to journalists
A few weeks after the tender controversy was first reported, the ANC Youth League released the personal details of City Press Investigations Editor Dumisane Lubisi, his wife and his children, including their identity numbers, bank details, residential address and vehicle details. Lubisi had reported on the poor construction quality of the Limpopo projects carried out by Malema's firms. The ANCYL made claims that it had evidence that journalists were corrupt in several respects.
In response, a large group of political journalists complained to various authorities within the ANC and to the South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) stating that they viewed the release as an attempt to intimidate them into not publishing further stories, and as a threat to media freedom. They further questioned how a political organisation obtained sensitive personal information without breaking the law. The Sowetan newspaper, in an editorial, called the steps to silence journalists "tyrannical", and accused the ANC Youth league of exploiting its closeness to "state and institutional power", to intimidate journalists who wrote about Malema. SANEF also released a statement supporting the journalists. Malema issued a statement that the ANCYL would continue to "expose" journalists.
Investigation by the Hawks
While Malema was overseas at a friend's wedding in Mauritius in late October 2011, it was reported in various South African media that Malema faced various charges of corruption, fraud and money laundering – these charges having been brought forward by the Special Investigative Unit, the Hawks.
At the core of the allegations is the Ratanang Trust, a trust ostensibly set up by Malema and named for his son – with his son and grandmother listed as beneficiaries – but allegedly is the focal point for payments made by politically connected businessmen in return for lucrative state tenders, mostly in the impoverished Limpopo region. Malema has denied any wrongdoing, while various investigations continue.
A warrant was issued for Malema's arrest in September 2012 on charges of fraud, money laundering and corruption, in relation to a government contract. The warrant was reportedly issued following an investigation into a tender awarded in 2010 to EduSolutions, to distribute textbooks to students in Limpopo. An investigation into the incident was launched by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), SA Revenue Service (Sars) and the elite police unit, the Hawks, following the discovery of dumped textbooks near a dam in Giyani.
Money laundering and tax evasion charges
On 26 September 2012, Malema was charged with money laundering, relating to his awarding of lucrative government contracts in Limpopo in return for an alleged 4 million rand in kickbacks.
After a hearing at the court in Polokwane, he was granted bail of 10,000 rand. Malema is facing charges of tax evasion in the amount of R16-million after it was revealed that he was linked to companies that obtained other lucrative contracts from the Limpopo government.
Racism controversies, hate speech convictions, and legal issues
March 2010 hate speech conviction
On 15 March 2010, Malema was convicted of hate speech by the Equality Court of South Africa, fined R50 000 and ordered to apologise unconditionally, following a 2009 incident when he told a group of Cape Town students at a South African Students' Congress (SASCO) meeting that the woman who accused President Zuma of rape had a "nice time" with him because in the morning she had "requested breakfast and taxi money".
"Shoot the Boer" song
In March 2010, at a rally on a university campus Malema sang the lyrics "shoot the Boer" (Dubul' ibhunu) from the anti-apartheid song "Ayasab' amagwala" (The cowards are scared) ("Boer" is the Afrikaans word for "farmer", but is also used as a term for any Afrikaans-speaking white person.) His singing was compared to similar chants by deceased Youth League leader Peter Mokaba in the early 1990s, to "kill the Boer", which had previously been defined as hate speech by the South African Human Rights Commission. Malema's singing of the song led to a barrage of complaints against him, both to the police, and to the commission. The ANC said "We wouldn't appreciate any statements against any member of our society, including whites... they are also South Africans", however, it "had not taken a decision in the matter".
The South Gauteng High Court ruled on 26 March 2010 that the song (which Malema had continued singing at public gatherings) was "unconstitutional and unlawful", and that any person singing it could face charges of incitement to murder, stating that the song called for the killing of the "farmer/white man"; however the ANC defended the song. The ANC announced it would appeal the ruling.
On 1 April 2010, the North Gauteng High Court granted an interdict preventing Malema from publicly uttering the words of this or any other song which could be considered to be "instigating violence, distrust and/or hatred between black and white citizens in the Republic of South Africa" until the matter was heard by the Equality Court, to which the case was referred by the presiding judge.
In the aftermath of Eugène Terre'Blanche's April 2010 murder, senior leaders of the ANC temporarily banned the singing of the song, amid concerns that struggle songs were being used to "scapegoat" the ANC and to further racial hatred, and because of concerns that ANC leaders who continued singing the songs may have been in contempt of the court orders banning the singing of the song.
President Zuma, at a 10 April 2010 news conference, said Malema was "totally out of order" for ignoring ANC instructions to obey the court order banning the singing of the song. Zuma emphasised the rule of law and that the constitutional role of the judiciary "as the final arbiter in disputes" had to be respected, and that defiance of the proper procedures in place to challenge judicial rulings, made a "mockery of the judicial system [which] should not be tolerated".
Hate speech trial and conviction
In April 2011 Afriforum brought a case of hate speech against Malema in regard to the song and several notable ANC figures such as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and secretary-general Gwede Mantashe supported him in the court battle. Aggressive and patronizing questioning of black witnesses by lawyers for the Afrikaner groups bringing the suit reportedly allowed Malema to portray himself as a victim of white persecution.
December 2013 arrest
Depiction in mainstream media
Malema is known for his controversial statements and has become a frequent target for lampooning. Initially, Cartoonists Zapiro and Jeremy Nell frequently drew him dressed in nappies. More recently, as Malema's public profile has grown, he has been described by critics in the media as a demagogue and even a fascist.
He was listed in Time's Least Influential People of 2010, whereas conversely Forbes magazine named him as one of the "10 Youngest Power Men In Africa" in September 2011. Writing in the Sowetan, Andile Mngxitama described Malema as "an opportunist who raised these issues [nationalisation, land reform etc], not to solve them, but to trick the poor who have been waiting for a better life for all for almost 20 years now under your party's rule ... Instead of leading the new struggle as a selfless leader of the poor, you only pay lip service to the plight of our people while you amass great amounts of wealth through your political influence."
In February 2013 it was reported that Malema's property would be auctioned off to pay a R16.1 million debt he owed the South African Revenue Service (SARS) after he failed to meet payment deadlines for unpaid taxes. Malema entered into a further deal with SARS to pay back the money which collapsed in March 2015
Malema is known for his oratory skills. He married his long time girlfriend in a private ceremony under heavy security in his hometown Seshego in 2014. Julius also has a son named Ratanang from a previous relationship with Maropeng Ramohlale.
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ANC Problem #943, Another Malema Outburst
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