Julius Sello Malema, 32, no longer has the media in South Africa following his every word so when his half constructed mansion in Sandown, a rich Johannesburg neigbourhood was auctioned yesterday, he took to twitter and wrote “I’am all smiles. I’ve deep feeling of hope and I know that life is a blessing. They will never capture my soul and my ideas, I remain resolute. Salute”. Nikiwe Sisilana, one of his followers on twitter replied “experiences such as these are meant to help us grow and not kill us”. Another follower was more critical; “no wonder Julius is ur leader, ur just as stupid as him”.
Malema’s tweet received an impressive 486 retweets. Julius Malema, former ANC youth leader might be down but he is not yet out. He is still a polarising figure in South Africa.
The auctioned mansion, located in one of the richest square miles in Africa, sold for just over US$600.000 . Malema owes the taxman 1.6 million dollars. The house when completed will have had an elevator, a cigar lounge, a movie room, a wine cellar, a jacuzzi, a coffee bar, a showroom garage among other modern trappings. These are the type of houses you will likely see in Hollywood. Critics of Malema want answers as to how the son of a single mother who grew up in poverty acquired such vast wealth. So much for a young boy who stuggled in school and only completed secondary school at the ripe old age of, wait for it; 21.
The bid winner of the mansion is Norman Tloubatla, a businessman and childhood friend of Malema. What goes around, comes around it seems.
The political fortunes of Malema continue to dwindle by the day. South African tax authorities have not finished with Malema yet. They also want his huge farm located in Limpopo, his home province. They will soon auction that too. By the time the invincible hands of the state machinery finish pursuing the former charismatic youth leader of the ANC, he will most probably be in jail.
Fall from Grace
Julius Malema is a test case of what not to do when you are young and have political power. He has charisma, knows how to rouse his mostly youthful followers but power appears to have got inside his head. He did not know where his limits ended. By deciding to pick a fight with two presidents of the ruling ANC, former president Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, Malema was in a sense, digging his own political grave.
In the dying years of the government of Thabo Mbeki, Malema pitched tent with uprising star Jacob Zuma. That was a very risky move that paid off when Zuma defeated Mbeki. It did not take him long to fall out with Zuma and he mistakenly thought he could again play the role of kingmaker and topple Zuma. This time he failed and Zuma never forgets. He quitely set the state machinery against Malema. However, Zuma was assisted in this by the brash and loud sounding Malema who made a couple of very disatrous political mistakes.
On two occasions, 2010 and 2011, he was convicted of hate speech. On a number of occasions, he called for the murder of white people and the “shoot the Boer” song he kept singing at rallies despite calls from ANC officials for him to stop doing that did not help his case. His two visits to Zimbabwe during which he criticized opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and praised Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his land grab policies also created him enemies in the ANC. He has also been known to attack journalists and in one of his press conferences, ordered BBC journalist Jonah Fisher to be expelled from the room. Julius Malema raised concerns to investors at home and abroad when he called for the nationalization of South African mines. However, all these will probably have only caused him minor problems. Trying at his tender age to be king maker was picking a coat that was too big even for his broad shoulders.
Money was essential the cause of his downfall. Julius Malema used his political clout to get very rich. He has never held any job apart from his paid position as ANC youth leader. The riches he acquired alledgely by getting kickbacks from contracts he awarded in his home province are directly responsible for his many court cases and the huge bill he now owes to the taxman.
When he decided to be king maker, he overstepped himself. It was only a matter of time before he fell from grace.
In an interview with a local paper, Julius Malema said no one in high places answers his calls again. People just make excuses and promise to call later. They never do.
Malema’s expulsion from the ANC was confirmed in April 2013 and there is little prospect for his political future in the party again. Unlike Winnie Mandela who managed to remain in the ANC despite opposing the party hierachy, Malema created too many enemies. Even in Seshego his home town, Malewa is a very divisive politician. For a boy who joined the ANC at the tender age of ten and whose first duty was to illegally tear down posters of the National Party his rise in the party ranks was meteoric. So too is his fall.
Now facing fraud, money laundary and rackeeteering charges, prison might just be the next mansion Julius Malema moves to. However, at 32, even his harshest critics cannot write off the abrasive youth leader. He still has time on his hands. However, with little prospects of rejoining the ruling ANC, creating a political base from outside will be much more difficult but the only viable political option opened to him now. “Juju” as he is fondly called might just be bidding his time.