An open letter to my former comrade Julius Malema

Dear Julius Malema.

From the very beginning, I admit that I have been fighting against the temptation of writing this open letter to you, dear former comrade Julius Malema. However, I have finally succumbed to the persisting temptation because of the following reasons.

Firstly, I do not want your seeming to be irreparable misguided militancy to go down in history unchallenged.

Secondly, I regret to have been part of the collective that played a central role in your re-election in the 24th National Congress of the ANC YL.

Thirdly, basic Marxism teaches us that isolating and attacking leaders of any revolutionary formation or organisation – such as the African National Congress – literally amounts to attacking the very same National Democratic Revolution of which I have a revolutionary duty to defend.

Fourthly, I am writing this open letter to you because I hope to tell you that your recent obsession with attacking ANC leaders, surrounding yourself with yes sirs like Sindiso Magaqa and Floyd Shivambu and falsely believing that you possess immense power similar to that of mini-gods is your biggest down-fall. The foregoing four reasons are the basis for this open letter to you, former comrade.

Former comrade, you know how I – like most comrades – honestly believed  that you can help us consolidate our gains and make new inroads while simultaneously championing the interest of young people and rallying them behind the ANC vision of creating a national democratic society (NDS).

Hence this open letter seeks to appeal to your long suspended political logic to find alternative means of entertaining your glaring unquenchable appetite for media cameras than attacking the ANC because you will be defeated like all those who couldn’t swallow their egos and toe the revolutionary line.  By the way, another admission that I should make is that the socio-economic challenges facing our country remains relevant to our struggle.

The summary of socio-economic challenges faced by the youth which informed your re-election:

Former comrade, it’s true that our ANC government has done a lot to create a united, democratic, non-sexist, non-racist and prosperous South Africa. For instance, the ANC government has provided free housing, infrastructural development, and transformed most apartheid policies etc. However, we note- with serious concern- that much more remains to be done especially for young people.

Of serious concern to us was that unemployment is rife within black youth in general and African youth in particular. For example, the survey conducted by the South African Institute of Race Relations found that unemployment substantially differed amongst racial groups. A key finding was that unemployment among African women is at 63% and out of all young Africans, 57% is unemployed compared to coloured youth at 47%, Indian youth at 23% and 21% of White youth.

Reminder of what the 24th ANC YL National Congress essentially said should be your key focus: 

At the 24th National Congress of the ANC YL and consistent with the historical and current role of the YL, we unanimously re-elected you and the collective to implement our clear and concrete national programmes.  We mandated you to ensure that these programmes must substantially improve the material conditions facing the youth and also be integrated into a national agenda. As a national political head of the ANC YL, we said you must lead us in mobilising young women and men to participate in the implementation of key programmes of the National Youth Development Agency. What we saw was the personal accumulation utilising any means available, including the NYDA.

In essence, the 24th National Congress adhered to Francis Fanon’s advice that each generation must ‘discover’ its mission and fulfil or betray it. The essence of the current generation was arguable ‘discovered’ to be the translation of political freedom into economic freedom in our lifetime. Without getting into further elaboration, it’s important to mention that the economic freedom struggle precedes the formal arrival of white settlers in 1652.

As such, it is incorrect for you former comrade,  Julius Malema, in particular to undermine Amilcar Cabral’s advice that leaders must be honest to the masses and desist from claiming easy victories. In other words, it is worth mentioning that the programme of economic freedom in our lifetime does not belong to you Julius, but is the South African people’s programme that was reaffirmed by the ANCYL. Unfortunately, you are unsuccessfully attempting to hijack both the ANCYL and the economic freedom in our lifetime programme.

What went wrong, former comrade?

I really do not know as to what really diverted you from the mandate that we gave you except to assume that you became obsessed with ANC leadership issues and vindicated Nelson Mandela’s warning against uncontested comrades becoming dangerous to the movement. I believed that the following form part of what I did not expect from you:

  • Confusing our support for you as a licence to accumulate personal wealth;
  • Acting in a manner that violated the core values and principles of the ANC such as respect for elected leaders, ANC decisions, humility and self-respect etc;
  • Falsely claiming that you installed Cde Jacob Zuma as the ANC President whereas you were a mere Provincial Secretary at that time and that the ANC YL support for President Zuma was a 2004 22nd ANC YL National Congress resolution;
  • Defining yourself outside the ANC such as stupidly saying “gloves are off” to the ANC which was similar to a barking toothless dog;
  • Opportunistically manipulating the inherent capitalist exploitation of the miners and confusingly questioning the legitimacy of the ANC while ironically wearing ANC regalia.

It is against the above background that my final submission is that we once thought we understood you on our mission for total liberation of our country. However your behaviour – especially after the 24th National Congress – vindicates the view that we were wrong about ever believing in your capacity to lead the ANC YL and South African youth. Finally, I must caution you that you have taken a wrong turn whose ultimate destination is the dustbin of history like all other factionalists who were expelled from the ANC.

Mthandeni Dlungwana

Mthandeni Dlungwana is the KZN ANC Provincial Executive Committee member, ANC Moses Mabhida Region’s Deputy Chairperson and MPL in the KZN Legislature writing in his personal capacity.