Behold, I am Malema the Mighty, bow before my absolutist, authoritarian glory

AS EFF SUPREMO Julius Malema rose from the decks of an elevator platform within the FNB soccer stadium, showered with pop-star confetti before 94 000 of his supporters, he was echoing another stadium-size political event which had occurred in Russia to mark the anniversary of an authoritarian — Vladimir Putin’s ‘special military operation’ celebration in Moscow.

Like the dictator Putin, Malema views himself as the prodigal heir to a former colonial Empire. In many respects the two politicos are cut from the same cloth — Juju as he is often affectionately known — is an ardent fan of policies which have seen war resisters imprisoned, gay rights activists jailed, and media outlets banned.

The well-orchestrated EFF fanfare came barely a week since his party platformed an openly misogynist, and homophobic speaker, Prof PLO Lumumba.

Amidst the sheen of festive excess to mark the party’s 10th anniversary, a thin veneer of Africanism and decolonial rhetoric faceted over Malema’s ultra-nationalist policies, which would entail wholesale nationalisation, ‘expropriation of land without compensation’, and seizure of businesses and property at the behest of reracialisation, ‘revolution and revenge’ against white citizens.

The circus event touting a command economy — another self-abnegating Marxist dynasty much like North Korea’s Kim dynasty — occurred within the oval of a stadium sponsored by a large South African financial institution — one of several which the grandiloquent leader wants to nationalise. It is one of many contradictory policy facts ignored by Malema’s critics, who also point out the party, which claims membership of 1 million supporters, represents barely a 3rd of the country’s over 30-million electorate.

Still, the third largest political grouping in South Africa, borrowed heavily from Putin’s United Russia Party and its contempt for the media, and has sought funding from oligarchs such as Adriano Mazzotti, a confessed tobacco smuggler, seemingly immune from prosecution under the current government.

Leading a chant of “Kill the Boer” a song which has “sparked pushback in both South Africa and the United States“, most notably from South African-born billionaire Elon Musk, reignited debate about a “controversial decades-old tune that dates back to the struggle against apartheid”.

It is doubtful whether the threatening words are appropriate to peacetime and the 21st century? Such criticism was however met with derision from across the spectrum of black social media, with many persons of colour, eager to normalise the equivalent of waving around the old Republic flag.

Yet Malema’s open endorsements of the violent sentiments behind the fringe song popularised by the late Peter Mokaba — which is anything but metaphorical in this context, nor even lyrical for that matter — is uncomfortably close to an outright call for civil war, and needs to be seen against his earlier statements this year, urging followers to ‘not be afraid of murdering in the name of revolution’.

Later at an amply funded black-tie shindig, sponsored by his right-wing capitalist associates (read fawning opportunists), Malema sung the praises of erstwhile and current benefactors, whilst cautioning his guests that he was ‘ruthless when it came to dissent within the ranks of his own party.’

The comments were apparently aimed at his second-in-command Floyd Shivambo.