What’s behind Malema ‘juju’?

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“Straight line thinkers struggle in a world of no straight lines,” says Irish academic, author and journalist John Naughton.

CONWAY TUTANI ECHOES

Despite a host of scandals — including corruption — surrounding both Jacob Zuma and his nemesis Julius “Juju” Malema, they didn’t do too badly in the South African general elections held last week.

At the end of the day, the scandals — despite being published non-stop and in detail — did not matter that much to the majority of the voters.

Could it be that many people recognise the Zuma and Malema hidden in them? That the dissonance in all of us is magnified in them, so when it’s played out in them, it’s cathartic (provides psychological relief through bringing our repressed ideas and feelings to the surface, getting something out of your system)? Enough of psychological diversion!

Or, in Zuma’s case, that people are not that prudish; they are not easily shocked by matters relating to sex or excessively concerned with sexual propriety? Social conservatism of the past is gone.

Or Malema championing the anti-corruption crusade when he himself has been probed for that? Here are two opposite things right next to each other, co-existing. For sure, life is not a straight line; it’s a winding and troubled road, detour after detour.

Malema was the biggest winner of them all. Juju’s Economic Freedom Fighters party made a more than decent debut in the elections, coming third overall, with other parties suffering losses of the demolition variety. Now, he is Honourable Malema, having tapped into ANC voters disgruntled by corruption, widening income inequality and growing poverty following his expulsion from the ruling party after his fallout with Zuma.

Many people see Malema as a buffoon and demagogue — and quite rightly so because he has used inflammatory and hateful language and been convicted of that in a court of law. Others view him as bombastic and refreshingly different from the prim and proper politician who is not his own man or woman, who is establishment through and through, who is whipped into line.

Both views are correct. Malema is too opinionated, garrulous and blunderous. Certainly, there is never a dull moment when he is around. Though Malema might not be a smooth political operator, he has certainly been an effective one.

This is not to condone or condemn Malema. It’s purely to look at the issue from a political science point of view. Hate him or like him, there is no doubt that Malema has shifted the political sands in South Africa. He is certainly a bully and a braggart, but there is need for professional detachment.

People ought to ask themselves as to what conditions allow characters like Malema to rise to prominence and who, if at all, is to blame.

They ought to talk of this in terms of cause and effect because Malema is but a mere effect, not the cause. A cause is something that makes something else happen. A chain of circumstances could be what catapulted Malema up. Spreading corruption, increasing poverty, the widening income gap and high unemployment made his voice heard and heeded.

Way back in Rhodesia, Ian Smith, because of his stubborn, uncompromising nature, unintentionally caused the hard-line and militant Robert Mugabe to rise at the expense of relative moderates who were seen as ineffectual in confronting the diehard system.

In those darkest days after UDI when colonial power Britain left blacks in the lurch, extremism began to be seen as the only option. Smith played no small part in the rise of Mugabe. So, what we have today is the creation — inadvertent as it is — of Rhodesia.

That said, both Zuma and Malema speak the language of the common man and have prevailed against their more illustrious opponents. This shows the establishment — including academia and the media — can be far removed from sentiments on the ground.

These two characters — Zuma and Malema — are the most criticised by commentators and the most caricatured by cartoonists in South Africa.

Said Zuma this week, in reference to the scandal which was supposed to severely damage his electability after State funds were corruptly used to upgrade his
Inkandla rural homestead at a cost of $23 million: “Inkandla is important to the upper classes and intellectuals, but not to the average voter.”

Naughton describes “straight line thinkers” as “literary intellectuals”. When systems change, you have to change the way you think about a problem or situation or else the carefully gathered data becomes meaningless and irrelevant. A too intellectual base without taking into consideration the endlessly changing world when there are different types of processes and logic at play is not helpful.

In contrast, Mohandas Gandhi, who led India to independence in 1947 in a non-violent struggle against colonial power Britain, was a non-literary intellectual who led the masses from the front and lived and ate with them. You don’t have to be as ascetic as Gandhi, but to be as humble and real as him.

Gandhi was intellectual – and a lawyer to top it all — but he came down to the people and identified with them in every way. His feet were firmly on the ground. You don’t need just one attribute, but many. Saying people should not be hold themselves prisoner to intellectualism is not being anti-intellectual.

Wrote former TIME Magazine senior editor Joshua Coper Ramo validating Naughton: “Unfortunately, whether they are running corporations or foreign ministries or central banks, some of the best minds of our era are still in thrall to an older way of seeing and thinking. The problem is that our leaders lack the language, creativity, and revolutionary spirit our moment demands. In many cases they have been corrupted by power, position and prestige.”

Sounds suspiciously like Zimbabwe, doesn’t it?
Juju’s rise is no fluke — there is no juju.

26 COMMENTS

    • An excellent analysis of a political conundrum, relevant not only in SA but also in Zimbabwe. Let me not delve into details. Only political science minds may understand this. Thank you Mr Conway Tutani.

  1. The attack on Rhodesia and Ian Smith will excite Musona, who will come with guns blazing in defence

  2. This is an excellent article which speaks to us Zimbabweans. We have been struggling since the 1990s hoping that through the ballot box we can change our situation. The “Malema/Zuma” syndrome has consistently attacked us and we have returned the same people into power . Even now as we write some people are so angry with the SALARYGATE scandals but come 2018 , some matemba here, some cooking oil there ,some “Zambia” and T-shirt there all is forgotten and the Revolutionairies(Pure GREEDY CAPITALISTS) are voted into power on the back of “empowering the people” as well as “standing up for Africa”.

    I know this makes some people angry but that is reality. So we , who have chosen to relocate to RSA are stuck with the ANC just as our relatives are study with the Revolutionary party. Only God will end this misery

  3. Good analysis generally. In african politics, people usually vote for the party regardless of who the candidate is. In the case of Malema however if you look closely you will find that he garnered most votes in two provinces of Northwest (rememmber Marikana) and Limpopo where he hails from( poorly paid farm workers) where people identify with his policies of grabbing and nationalisation. When the Marikana saga is settled,you will find that his support base will dwindle.

  4. Let me correct a few inaccuracies in Tutani’s account. When Mugabe came from Ghana “on holiday” and invited himself into the NDP in 1960 the prime minister at the time was Sir Edgar Whitehead not Ian Smith. Mugabe was not hard-line and militant – unbeknown to us all Mugabe was fighting other nationalists so that he could be leader himself, not Nkomo or Ndabaningi Sithole. Who was Edgar Whitehead going to hand over power to when those in NDP, and later Zapu and Zanu were fighting each other for leadership? Mugabe entertained the idea of being leader in his formative years and he went to Ghana to look for an ideology. Smith had nothing to do with Mugabe’s burning ambition of being leader. Mugabe regards himself as a cross between Ghandi and Nkrumah. In any case I do not find the relevance of including this bit on Ian Smith in what happened in S African elections.
    Ian Smith as not stubborn as we now realised – he was trying to save us from ourselves.

    • Let me correct inaccuracies in your account. By the time most nationalists were detained around 1964 and 1965 after the banning of Zapu and Zanu, the hardline Ian Smith (in comparison to the moderate Edgar Whitehead and Winston Field) was firmly in power and went on to unilaterally declare independence from Britain (this in itself an act of rebellion against the British Crown), virtually shutting the doors for peaceful negotiations with blacks. Smith was emboldened that Verwoerd’s racist apartheid regime in South Africa had appeared to virtually get away with defiance against the world and wanted to have his own version of apartheid in Rhodesia. Smith was far from an angel as you would make him out to be. Extremism begets extremism. That’s exactly what Smith did; i.e., he sowed the seeds of extremism. That things have turned out for the worse or not does not nullify this historical fact. We need to look at life as work in progress, not with the finality of all-knowingness or omniscience; i.e. claiming to solely have complete, unlimited, infinite knowledge on every subject or topic, claiming to be the ultimate authority.

  5. If you read Tutani u get a feel of current affairs in clear commentary terms, read anything by Reason Wafawarova you will not only feel but actualise desonance of talent in the wilderness that is lost due to economic migration, move to Manheru then not only will you realise what bootlicking is but the full blast of executive sewer language. Advanced bootlicking and and a complete series on how to confound readers can not be any better than Tafataona churns out,
    so for u poor little churchmouse ‘reason’ in the colums to think this master piece is blabber means u dont follow, pure and simple.

  6. Its the same, chronic Rhodesian Nostalagiatis. Whitehead, Wiston Field Were modarate but Ian Smith who staged a coup on Wiston Field was insensetive to the Zimbabweans and introduced policies similar to the apatheid and this made Mugabe a darling of the miltant Zimbabwean and enemy of puppets like Musona of Highfields and not Highlands

  7. Malema is ‘opinionated, garrulous and blunderous’..with these three words you have described Malema better than anyone in history has done! Well said indeed. I have to take issue with the fact that Malema stole into the frustrated ANC constituency..I think Malema stole more from Cope than from the ANC. At the end of it all though he gained from the protest vote much like Cope did before EFF..it is growing the party that counts. Now that he will be in parliament which on its own has this tendency to suck rebelliousness with its protocols and so on, lets revisit this ‘fluke’ come 2019. That said I think it is fair to congratulate both the EFF and the NFP (splinter group from Buthelezi’s IFP.). That said, we could learn a thing or two on how to run elections from our colleagues in SA. Of course one finds this question irresistable: when is Buthelezi going to call it a day?

  8. tinoda kutenda macio gandaga and reason for their contributions. thank you for wasting our time.

  9. One Saturday morning, in the year 2000, I drove to Fife Avenue Shopping centre to buy some items in a Hardware shop. I went in OK supermarket nearby first and when I got inside there was commotion – I soon realised that Ian Smith was in the supermarket and was mobbed by shoppers and shop workers. Everything came to a standstill. People outside thought there was a fight inside only to see it was people cheering Ian Smith. I could not believe what I was seeing. When he went outside back to his red VW Golf car still he was being mobbed and cheered by almost everyone at Fife Avenue. People were shouting you were dead right Mr Smith. He just smiled and never said anything and drove away. This goes to show you how good he was. For us the old generation we are able to compare and I have no hesitation in saying we were a BILLION TIMES BETTER OFF UNDER WHITE RULE. For those born after you will never understand because you have been force-fed lies right through.

  10. A security guard could afford to send his child to a boarding school and the education was of high standard, Grade 7 failures could go to F2 schools and other skill horned into them and they became skilled artisans. That was Smith for you. Now we churn out O’levels of Smith’s grade 7 standards, A’ levels of Smith’s RJC standard, Graduates of Smith’s O’Level standards. He had plans to develop Zimbabwe and he was working on them not talking about them day in day out.

  11. Yours is a voice of experience and reason Mr Tutani and your analysis is very clear, well informed and educative that I strongly feel you should compile all this material into one book for publication for study by future generations. I salute you.

  12. Tutani do not mislead people – “In those darkest days after UDI when colonial power Britain left blacks in the lurch, extremism began to be seen as the only option”. There was never a dark day. When you say “dark days” what do you mean? And that “we were left in a lurch”? Where were you at the time? How old were you? Rhodesia had the second most prosperous economy in Africa. Some of us were aware of this and we took full advantage. Jobs were plenty. Excellent cheap schools, NO INCOME TAX FOR US IN THE FORMAL SECTOR AT THE TIME. No corporation tax for black businesses. Excellent hospitals. This idea that people go for over a month without pay was not heard off. You could go to the bank and get your money with no problems. Cheap houses to rent. Excellent public transport system. No power outages. No water shortages. Clean water. Excellent railway system. Excellent roads. Very efficient police force. When you say “dark days” you should first tell us what you mean by that. “Dark days”? You cannot be serious! Those were our halcyon days. Smith and company took us from the Stone Age to modernity, including Mugabe. We were together with Mugabe in Highfield before he whites gave us electricity and when we had bucket toilet system were ox-drawn sewer tank came around every evening to collect the buckets from the outside toilets on paths called “sanitary lines” and commonly corrupted to “sendiraini”. When you people talk or write you do so as if this borderless land was very advanced before 1890. This land was very very very very backward. Not a single school or factory. That tells you all you need to know about the backwardness of the land back then.
    I know where we came from and will forever be grateful to colonialism – I don’t care what anyone says. If you got off a plane from abroad you could feel the air of prosperity in Rhodesia. I felt so myself when I went abroad for some time. Julius Nyerere called this land “a jewel” – not anymore. Yavekutongwa ne mabhoyi.
    Are they any darker days than the day you went to your bank and were told your money had been taken by the ZanuPF government? And you were broke, no petrol in your car, no money to buy food for your kids? It will get worse. Dark days in Rhodesia? Not the Rhodesia I know where I was born, and brought up.
    Must have been another Rhodesia on a parallel universe.

  13. One sentence should read, “This idea that people go for over a month without pay was unheard of.
    “You could go to the bank and get your money with no problems”.

  14. Conway Tutani.
    Please do your self a favour and reed the following books, A Africa’s red harvest by Pieter Lessing
    and B The battle for Rhodesia by Douglas Reed. You will find that Smith was not at all responsible for MUGABE’s creation ,but merely a perfect conduit for the long term Communism take over of this part of Africa . No surprise that the communist were the Chinese ” backing Mugabe” and the Russians ” Backing Nkomo ” The world and Africa thought the war was about black and white, majority rule versus minority rule, when all along it was communism versus capitalism. We Zimbabweans just took the wrong option and look where we are now . Who’s the real victor’s of the war ???? THE CHINESE !!!!!!

    • If Smith had treated blacks as equal and allowed them to vote as equal citizens, and had the West not gone soft on Smith after he unilaterally declared independence from Britain (itself an act of rebellion against the British Crown) in 1965 in spite of the British government’s NIBMAR (No Independence without Black Majority Rule) Policy on Rhodesia, blacks would not have turned to the “hated” Communists. Communists or no Communists, it was only a matter of time before blacks rose up against an unjust caste system based on racism against the majority. It’s about conditions, not Communism.

  15. Let me correct inaccuracies in your account. By the time most nationalists were detained around 1964 and 1965 after the banning of Zapu and Zanu, the hardline Ian Smith (in comparison to the moderate Edgar Whitehead and Winston Field) was firmly in power and went on to unilaterally declare independence from Britain (this in itself an act of rebellion against the British Crown), virtually shutting the doors for peaceful negotiations with blacks. Smith was emboldened that Verwoerd’s racist apartheid regime in South Africa had appeared to virtually get away with defiance against the world and wanted to have his own version of apartheid in Rhodesia. Smith was far from an angel as you would make him out to be. Extremism begets extremism. That’s exactly what Smith did; i.e., he sowed the seeds of extremism. That things have turned out for the worse or not does not nullify this historical fact. We need to look at life as work in progress, not with the finality of all-knowingness or omniscience; i.e. claiming to solely have complete, unlimited, infinite knowledge on every subject or topic, claiming to be the ultimate authority.

  16. Conway , fair comment , but like I said we just took the wrong road and we still on the wrong road. The evidence speaks for itself. We should have changed course in 1980 , so we have no excuses, but all we have done is go from white minority rule to black minority rule with disastrous results . WHAT about MUGABE”S stubborn and uncompromising nature , at least Smith had an economy to talk about, in fact the jewel of Africa, what have we got ?? NOTHING . Facts always speak for them selves. TAONA NA

    • Zimbabwe was a jewel of Africa as the South was a jewel of black America during slavery. African Americans are without jobs today but they had jobs on those plantations long ago, did they not? African Americans and Africans under slavery and colonialism should be grateful because America and Rhodesia had a better economy for them then, is that it? What you call facts is nothing but twisted reasoning, my friend.

  17. Sorry Conway, referring to your first reply to my comments, your last paragraph is one hundred percent correct and I fully agree with you. Quote “Communists or no Communists, it was only a matter of time before blacks rose up against an unjust caste system based on racism against the majority. It’s about conditions, not Communism.”
    My question then begs with all the rigging (NICOV etc) of elections since 2000, disenfranchising voters within the country and the diaspora, intimidation and brutality, marumbasvina, gukuruhandi, world record inflation, no law and order, corruption, the constitution completely ignored – the list goes on and on.
    When all is said and done – don’t we have a situation of an unjust caste system (which you yourself speak of), which is obviously not racist but is even worse than the Rhodesian scenario, as this is black on black.
    So if it is not Communism then what is it? Because we have the same caste system as you say, but nobody is uprising, and the majority of the people are living in conditions which are much worse in the present day – so why no uprising? as you quite rightly suggest there should be.
    I can bet you any amount of money you like, that under the same conditions and it was a white president and government, there would and should have been an uprising long ago.
    I have personally asked this very question to at least a thousand Zimbabweans and every single one of them agreed 100% that if it was a white president and government doing the things described above, there would most definitely, without a doubt, have been a people revolution.
    So why the double standards? What is good for the goose should be good for the gander, but it is not is it? Maybe this is where the problem lies.

  18. Malema, call him whatever you wish, is one who speaks to the issues of the majority. Who is the majority and what are their issues?

    The majority comprises of Africans only!

    Their issues are:
    1. They are marginalized
    2. They are poor because of inequality first, corruption second, historical marginalization third
    3. They have no say in how their own resources are managed

    The majority does not care about how well a leader acts the part of a puppet in a suit (speaking well, being polite and not angering the establishment that enslaves them), the majority does not sleep better at night because their leader is an intellectual or presidential.

    Unless the majority changes and except if all their issues are resolved, EFF will not disappear like Cope did and Malema will not die but multiply.

    EFF did not do so well because of Malema, EFF did so well because of the principle that Bob Marley put across so effectively in the song ‘War’ –

    War in the east,
    War in the west,
    War up north,
    War down south –
    War – war –
    Rumours of war.
    And until that day,
    The African continent
    Will not know peace,
    We Africans will fight – we find it necessary –
    And we know we shall win
    As we are confident
    In the victory

    Of good over evil –
    Good over evil, yeah!
    Good over evil –
    Good over evil, yeah!
    Good over evil –
    Good over evil, yeah!

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