A FAMOUS GROUSE
INTERESTING that AfriForum and its hired gun, advocate Gerrie Nel, should round on Julius Malema just as he was making significant headway in his new role as the ruling party’s policy director.
The National Prosecuting Authority is understandably miffed with Nel and company, and considers AfriForum’s threat to privately prosecute the Economic Freedom Fighters’ commander-in-chief for fraud and corruption should the NPA not do so as meddling in its affairs.
These charges relate to tender irregularities in Limpopo about ten years ago when prosecutors at the time claimed that Juju’s Ratanang Family Trust profited greatly from road engineering works in the province, and the then president of the ANC Youth League was able to buy himself a Mercedes and a farm with the proceeds.
The matter was struck from the roll in 2015 because one of Malema’s co-accused fell ill for a lengthy period and it was apparently too inconvenient to proceed with the case.
Which is not as outrageous as it sounds. Convicted fraudsters are now freed from prison for health reasons and while away their days at country clubs. Why then should alleged fraudsters face the rigours of a criminal trial when they are also feeling poorly?
Malema, of course, appears to be in rude health at the moment, and was full of fizz and fury in his reaction to AfriForum.
“Bring it on bloody racists,” Kiddy Amin tweeted, “you don’t scare me at all. I’m born ready! No white man will decide my destiny, the poor masses of our people will…”
And perhaps they one day shall.
Some commentators, meanwhile, have questioned AfriForum’s motives in wanting the charges reinstated and argue that all the “bloody racists” will accomplish in doing so is bolster support for our failed cabbage farmer in his struggle against white monopoly capital and what have you.
Such support, though welcome, is perhaps hardly needed; all is peachy with Malema at the moment, and the EFF’s rapprochement with the ANC is coming along in leaps and bounds in the post-Jacob Zuma era.
In little more than two months, the EFF has commandeered the ruling party’s stated policy of expropriation without compensation as its very own and has led the charge here, with the result that possible farm invasions are a little too close for comfort, especially for AfriForum.
And Malema also scored a terrific public relations coup at the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela funeral service last weekend.
First, there was all that emotional guff from former police minister Fikile Mbalula about how the party would honour Madikizela-Mandela’s dying wish by bringing Malema and his red berets back to the ANC.
Then, after Malema had indicated what sort of ANC he’d be willing to work with, one that didn’t include what he termed a treacherous United Democratic Front cabal, the prodigal son called on government to rename Cape Town International Airport after Madikizela-Mandela.
Within days, the transport ministry confirmed that a process to rename the airport was underway, with transport minister Blade Nzimande suggesting the change should honour “one of our heroes or heroines who contributed immensely to the attainment of democratic South Africa, one that is united, non racial, non sexist, democratic and prosperous.”
Here at the Mahogany Ridge, there have been suggestions they call it Jeff Airport, to recognise the immense contribution of some schmuck in the middle classes. You know, the people who pay an effective tax rate of half their income, without which social services would probably collapse.
My own feeling is that they call it Mandela Airport. Just the surname, thus avoiding that reactionary gender specific stuff.
In fact, why not be done with it and call every airport in the country Mandela Airport?
It wouldn’t be that confusing. Pilots could inform their passengers they’re landing, let’s say, at “Mandela Airport in Johannesburg” or “Mandela Airport in Cape Town”.
Beside which, the family brain cell would be missing if you got on a flight anywhere in the country and didn’t know where you were going.
Now that we’re at it, let’s rename the whole country Mandela.
Swaziland did something like that this week. According to the lunatic King Mswati III, our neighbour’s now called eSwatini, meaning “place of the Swazi” or, if you will, “place of King Mswati III’.
This, Reuters reported, because Mswati had grown tired of people confusing his country with Switzerland.
That admittedly is not a mistake that many visitors to South Africa will ever make. But to those of us who feel that “South Africa” is not so much a country as a direction, then the name change would be welcome.
Mandela, Mandelaland or Mandelania? I’ll leave that up to the experts.
A version of this article first appeared in the Weekend Argus.