Julius Malema

Julius Sello Malema[1] (born 3 March 1981) is a South African politician and activist who is a Member of Parliament and the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, a left-wing party which he founded in 2013.[2][3] He previously served as President of the African National Congress Youth League from 2008 to 2012. Julius Malema was also a member of the African National Congress (ANC) from the age of nine[4] until his expulsion from the party in April 2012 at the age of thirty-one. Julius rose to prominence as a supporter of ANC president, and later President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma. He was described by both Zuma[5] and the Premier of Limpopo Province, Cassel Mathale, as the "future leader" of South Africa.[6] Less favourable portraits paint him as a "reckless populist" with the potential to destabilise South Africa and to spark racial conflict.[7]

Julius Malema
Julius Malema, EFF CIC (2019).png
Malema in 2019
President of the Economic Freedom Fighters
Assumed office
26 July 2013
DeputyFloyd Shivambu
Preceded byParty established
9th President of the African National Congress Youth League
In office
April 2008 – April 2012
DeputyAndile Lungisa
Ronald Lamola
Preceded byFikile Mbalula
Succeeded byCollen Maine
Member of the National Assembly of South Africa
Assumed office
21 May 2014
President of COSAS
In office
Personal details
Julius Sello Malema

(1981-03-03) 3 March 1981 (age 41)
Seshego, Transvaal Province, South Africa
Political partyAfrican National Congress (1990–2012)
Economic Freedom Fighters (2013–present)
Mantwa Matlala
(m. 2014)
  • Flora Mahlodi Malema (mother)
Residence(s)Limpopo, South Africa
Alma materUniversity of South Africa
University of the Witwatersrand
  • Politician
  • anti-apartheid activist

Malema was convicted of hate speech in March 2010[8][9][10] and again in September 2011.[11] In November 2011, he was suspended from the ANC for five years for sowing divisions within the party.[12] In 2011, he was again convicted of hate speech after singing "Dubul' ibhunu" ("Shoot the Boer"), a decision upheld on appeal, leading to his expulsion from the ANC.[13]

In 2012, Malema was charged with fraud, money-laundering and racketeering.[14] After numerous postponements,[15][16] the case was dismissed by the courts in 2015 due to excessive delays by the National Prosecuting Authority, leading to perceptions that the charges were politically motivated.[17] However, Afrikaner rights group AfriForum announced in 2018 that it would mount a private prosecution of Malema on the corruption charges.[18]

Early life

Malema, a Mopedi, was born and grew up in Seshego near Polokwane, Transvaal Province now known as Limpopo.[19] His mother was a domestic worker and a single parent.[20][21] He joined the African National Congress' Masupatsela at the age of nine[21] or ten.[20] His main task at the time was to remove National Party posters.[21]


Malema graduated from Mohlakaneng High School, Seshego, Limpopo.[22][23][24] In 2010, he completed a two-year diploma in youth development through the University of South Africa (UNISA). In 2011, he enrolled at UNISA for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and African Languages, and graduated in March 2016.[25][26][27] In 2017, he obtained a BA (Honours) in Philosophy from UNISA.[28] He is currently[when?] studying for a Master's degree at the University of the Witwatersrand.[29]

Political career

Malema seen with the ANC Youth League

Early political career

Malema was elected a chairman of the Youth League branch in Seshego and the regional chairman in 1995. In 1997 he became the chairman of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) for the Limpopo province, and was elected as the national president of that organisation in 2001.[30] In 2002, Malema led a COSAS march by school pupils, through Johannesburg; the march was marked by incidents of violence and looting.[23]

Election as leader of ANC Youth League

Malema was elected as the president of the ANC Youth League in April 2008, receiving 1,833 votes to Saki Mofokeng's 1,696 votes.[31] The election – and the conference – were characterized by intimidation, fraud[32] which Malema later described as "unbecoming conduct".[33]

During the April 2009 presidential elections, Malema gathered support for Zuma, in which Malema said: "We are prepared to take up arms and kill for Zuma". His statement was condemned from politicians and South Africans alike, while opposition parties questioned why Zuma did not reprimand Malema.[34]

Malema was later re-elected unopposed for a second term on 17 June 2011 at Gallagher Estate in Midrand when Lebogang Maile, the only opposing nominee, declined the nomination.[35]

September 2009 Nedbank controversy

In September 2009, Malema threatened to mobilise people to withdraw their Nedbank accounts after the bank decided to withdraw its sponsorship from Athletics South Africa (ASA). Although Nedbank argued that the decision was made after dissatisfaction with the delivery of previous events, Malema suggested the withdrawal was related to current controversy around ASA's President Leonard Chuene,[36] who admitted he had been informed about the gender test which concluded that athlete Caster Semenya is an intersex person, but neglected to withdraw her from the World Championships where she won a gold medal.[citation needed]

Malema criticised[37] the Deputy Sport Minister Gert Oosthuizen who had called for Chuene's resignation.[38] Malema argued that there is no concept of intersex in Pedi culture, something he called "imposed on us by the imperialists"[36] and said he did not understand Chuene's apology.

"For what? Apologising for protecting one of our own? Apologising to fight for this woman to participate in the World Championships? We wouldn't have apologised if it was us. There's no apology."[36]

In a response, the parliamentary spokesman on Sport, Anton Alberts stated that Malema was a "dilemma which can no longer be ignored", which needed to be addressed by the ANC.[39]

April 2010 Zimbabwe visit

On 3 April 2010, Malema visited Zimbabwe, in what was described as a visit on indigenisation. He was expected to meet the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe. Upon landing in Harare, Malema was greeted by Zanu-PF supporters as well as Zimbabwe's Youth and Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, and ZANU-PF Youth Chairman Absolom Sikhosana, as well as Zimbabwean business figures who had risen to prominence in recent years.[who?][40]

Morgan Tsvangirai, Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, condemned Malema's visit, after Malema criticised Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).[41] During the visit, he described Tsvangirai as an ally of "imperialists", and called for the Mugabeist-style seizure of mines and farms in South Africa.[42]

Youth organisations in Zimbabwe criticised Malema's visit, citing his controversial racial statements and alleged corruption.[43] Malema's comments during the visit sparked fears that South Africa would follow Zimbabwe's chaotic land reform example.[43] Malema also blamed the MDC for introducing political violence to Zimbabwe, and defended Robert Mugabe's political and human rights record.[44] Upon Malema's return from Zimbabwe, the ANC Youth league released a statement praising Mugabe and Zimbabwe's land reform programme. It called for young black South Africans to follow the example of young people in Zimbabwe and to engage in agriculture, so to reduce their dependence on white farmers.[45]

Malema's visit came while President Jacob Zuma was trying to broker a political settlement in Zimbabwe, and reportedly caused concern among ANC officials, but Zuma himself reportedly blessed the visit.[46] The ANC, however, in a later statement distanced itself from the ANC Youth League's electoral support of ZANU-PF.[47]

Incident involving BBC journalist

On 8 April 2010, at a Johannesburg media briefing covering his visit to Zimbabwe, Malema was involved in an incendiary incident with Jonah Fisher, a BBC journalist.[48] Malema had been criticising the Movement for Democratic Change for having offices in affluent Sandton, when BBC journalist Jonah Fisher commented that Malema himself lived in Sandton. Malema lashed out at Fisher after the latter dismissed Malema's comments as rubbish.[49][50][51][52][53][54]

Malema was unapologetic and accused Fisher of being disrespectful, and of coming from a country, the UK, which Malema claimed had undermined the credibility and integrity of African leaders.[55] After the incident Malema said he expected an apology from Fisher.[56] However, the next day, the ANC issued a statement condemning Malema's actions during the news conference.[47][56]

On 10 April 2010, at a news conference in Durban, where he characterised Malema's conduct as "alien to the ANC",[57] President Jacob Zuma publicly criticised Malema's behaviour[58] saying "the manner in which a BBC journalist was treated at an ANC Youth League press conference is regrettable and unacceptable, regardless of any alleged provocation on his part", and said he had spoken to Malema about his conduct by telephone.[59] Malema remained defiant after Zuma's rebuke.[57]

Disciplinary procedures by ANC

On 18 April 2010, it was reported that Malema faced disciplinary procedures by the ANC for bringing it and the government into disrepute.[60][61] The charges related to:

Malema faced a "hostile" disciplinary committee on 3 May 2010.[63] On 11 May 2010, Malema entered into a plea bargain, and three of the charges against him were dropped (the attack on the BBC journalist, his endorsement of Mugabe, and his singing of "Shoot the Boer" after it was banned). He pleaded guilty to criticising Zuma after Zuma publicly censured him, and was ordered by the disciplinary committee to make a public apology for his conduct, fined R10,000 which was to be donated to a youth development project, and to attend anger management classes. He was also warned of suspension from the ANC if he re-offended within two years. Malema complied, apologising "unconditionally", stating that he accepted that his "conduct and public utterances should at all times reflect respect and restraint".[citation needed]

Nationalisation and land redistribution

Malema became a vocal advocate of nationalising South African mines.[64][when?] Although the ANC, including Mining Minister Susan Shabangu, and President Zuma,[65] made it clear that this was not ANC policy,[66] Malema has continued to advocate this position. His opinions on nationalisation are shared by South Africa's large National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). At a public meeting at the University of Western Cape, Malema asked: "Why should we pay for our land?"[67]

He then advocated the seizure of land without compensation and the removal of the "willing buyer, willing seller" principle. At a 16 June Youth Day celebration, Malema accused white South Africans of "stealing land" and again advocated for the redistribution of land without compensation.[68] In April 2010 Malema led a youth delegation to Venezuela to study that country's nationalisation programme.[69]

Other activities as Youth League president

Julius Malema t-shirts

Malema campaigned enthusiastically for the ANC in the April 2009 elections. However, he was asked to leave Port Elizabeth's Dora Nginza Hospital after the head of the hospital noticed him and 20 other ANC members campaigning in the wards.[70] In an apparent effort to reach the new youth, Malema began visiting schools. These visits were criticised by Deputy President of South Africa, and of the ANC, Kgalema Motlanthe for being disruptive to education.[71]

In early 2010, Malema urged ANC Youth League members to join the South African National Defence Force, and said that there were plans for the Youth League leadership to join the reservist programme.[72] The military training was confirmed in May 2010, with the naval[73] training due to commence in September 2010.[74]

In March 2010, in what was widely held to be a rebuke of Malema, the ANC's National Executive Committee (NEC) lashed out at the "new culture of public feuds, insults and personal attacks" and adopted a policy of disciplining those who became involved in public disputes with members of the governing ANC-SACP-COSATU alliance.[75]

Malema's bid for a second term as Youth League president received a boost in 2010 when a number of Eastern Cape ANC Youth League regional conferences in the Eastern Cape elected candidates remained loyal to him,[76] although there were some allegations of irregularities from Malema's opponents.[77]

In Malema's home province of Limpopo, a fiercely contested race for the Youth League presidency had been expected.[56] The Limpopo meeting experienced vigorous discussion, on occasion degenerating into violence. Malema's rivals and journalists were reportedly ejected by police, at the behest of Malema.[78][79]

Disciplinary review by ANC

On 30 August 2011 Malema was subjected to a disciplinary hearing by the ANC. His supporters held a rally in the center of Johannesburg that turned into a violent confrontation. Some protesters held placards with slogans like "South Africa for blacks only",[80] which caused many disapproving reactions from the black community. Malema submitted an application to have all charges against him revoked. The ANC National Disciplinary Committee (NDC) met on 31 August 2011 and 1 September to deliberate on this application. The ruling was delivered at 9:00 a.m. on 2 September 2011. The NDC dismissed Malema’s application to have the charges quashed.[81]

On 10 November 2011, Malema was found guilty of contravening Rules 25.5(c) and (i) of the ANC Constitution[82] for expressing views at a press conference of the ANC Youth League on 31 July 2011 "which sought to portray the ANC government and its leadership under President Zuma in a negative light in relation to the African agenda and which had the potential to sow division and disunity in the ANC, and for expressing his personal views on Botswana which contravened ANC policy."[83] Malema stated that his league would establish a "Botswana command team", which would work towards uniting all opposition forces in Botswana to oppose what he had called the puppet regime led by the Botswana Democratic Party.[84] Malema was suspended from the ANC for five years.[12]

Convictions handed down by the National Disciplinary Committee to ANC Youth League leaders were upheld by an appeals committee on Saturday, 4 February 2012. As a result, Malema was stripped of his title and party membership.[13] The NDC was instructed by the National Disciplinary Committee of Appeal (NDCA) to hear evidence in mitigation and aggravation of sanction in the cases involving Floyd Shivambu, Sindiso Magaqa, and Malema.[83]

On 29 February 2012, the National Disciplinary Committee, chaired by Derek Hanekom, announced the results of their review from Luthuli House. In their statement the NDC characterised the relationship between the ANC and the three respondents as "contractual in nature", bound by a "membership oath". It goes on to state that the respondents "were fully aware of the provisions of the ANC Constitution; they considered themselves bound by the ANC Constitution and they undertook to respect the ANC Constitution and its structures."[83] The report characterised Malema as a repeat offender who was unrepentant and did not accept the findings of the disciplinary machinery of the ANC. Their conclusion in respect of Malema was:

"The NDC is of the view that if comrade Malema is not prepared to accept final decisions of the NDCA, then the likelihood of him respecting the ANC Constitution is remote." —point 74 of the report[83]

The NDC expelled Malema from the ANC, ordered him to vacate his position as President of the ANC Youth League, but gave him leave to appeal to the NDCA against sanction within 14 days.[83] On 24 April 2012 the appeal process ended when the NDCA confirmed his expulsion with immediate effect.[85]

October 2012 Zimbabwe visit

Malema visited Zimbabwe in October 2012 to attend a wedding and to address the ZANU-PF Youth wing. Johannesburg's Mail and Guardian quoted the Zimbabwean Herald Online in a story, saying Malema had told the meeting: "He said the youths in South Africa were calling for whites to surrender land and minerals resources they hold because when they came from Europe they did not carry any land into South Africa."

What we are asking is for them to surrender our minerals because they did not come with any minerals. We want that land and those minerals for free because they never paid for those minerals.[86]

Malema said whites had committed murder to get land.

Actually they killed people to get that land and those minerals. We are not going to give them money when we take the land back because it will be like we are thanking them with money for killing our people. We will never do that, little did they know that we are not scared of blood. We are scared of defeat. We don't want to be defeated but seeing blood is not what we are scared of as long as that blood delivers what belongs to us we are prepared to go to that extent.[86][87]

Malema told the young people he was in Zimbabwe for inspiration so that when he returned home he could "double the spirit of fighting against imperialist forces".[86] He called on black South Africans to have as many children as possible so as to increase dominance of 'our ideas' in the world at large and help catalyze world revolution.[87][88]

We want to see many kids, why? Because we must reproduce ourselves. For our ideas to be sustainable, we have to reproduce ourselves. In the whole of Africa, we are not more than one billion and the world has seven billion people. In Africa we have not more than one billion people… facing more than six billion. We have to be half of that so that our ideas can dominate. I know that in some instances size does not matter… but when it comes to a revolution, size matters.[88]

Economic Freedom Fighters

In June 2013, Malema began to canvas for his political party called the Economic Freedom Fighters.[89] The South African president Jacob Zuma, at a meeting with the SA National Editors' Forum, stated that the ruling party does not see this development as a threat.[89] While still on trial for money laundering and racketeering charges[90] Malema started appealing for funds for the new political party.[91]

Malema's visit to Nigerian 'Prophet' T.B. Joshua for 'spiritual blessings' in August 2013 with some EFF members also elicited controversy and media attention.[92][93]

The EFF won 25 seats in the National Assembly in the 2014 general election. Malema was sworn in as a member of parliament on 21 May 2014.[94] Malema was dismissed from the National Assembly on 19 June 2014 after refusing to withdraw a remark he made on 18 June 2014 accusing the ANC government of murdering the miners involved in the Marikana miners' strike.[95]

As a member of parliament Malema was paid R101‚885 (equivalent to US$6,500) a month.[96]

Comments on Nkandla scandal

As an elected MP, Malema has been publicly critical of President Zuma, especially as regards the ANC leader's alleged corruption with respect to the Nkandla scandal. On 12 February 2015, Malema, together with other members of the EFF, was forcibly removed from the State of the Nation address, when Malema interrupted Zuma to question whether he would pay back part of the $23 million in taxpayer funds he used to build a private residence in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal. Malema responded to being ejected, suggesting South Africa had become, or was becoming, a police state.[97]

Comments against the ANC

In an interview with the international news broadcaster Al Jazeera English and broadcast on 24 April 2016 Malema stated that should the ruling ANC continue to act violently against protests, "we [the EFF] will remove this government through the barrel of a gun".[98] He went on to accuse the ANC of losing the 2014 elections in Gauteng province and rigging them so as to win.[99] Following these remarks the ANC opened a case of treason with the South African Police Service against Malema for making the comments.[100]

Comments on White genocide, Donald Trump, and Jews

On 23 August 2018, Malema spoke out against the white genocide conspiracy theory and was critical of comments made by United States President Donald Trump, after he had instructed his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to investigate South African farm attacks.[101] Claiming it was "absolute rubbish to say there's white genocide", Malema said that "South Africans would not be intimidated by Mr Trump" and that the US President's intervention into their domestic land rights issues "only made them more determined".[102][103][104]

At a media briefing at EFF headquarters on the same day, Malema stated "there is actually black genocide in the U.S., they are killing black people in the U.S. [...] black people are even being killed in South Africa". He also said that "there’s a group of white right-wingers who are being trained by Jews in Pretoria to be snipers" in reference to Israeli commandos training white South Africans.[105] The South African Jewish Board of Deputies subsequently issued a statement denouncing Malema, calling his comments "typical of his attention-seeking behaviour" and "aimed at creating racial tension".[106]

Involvement in state contracts

Reports regarding Malema's possible involvement in state tenders (contracts)[107] began appearing in November 2009.[108] Questions about his personal lifestyle were raised by the South African media.[109][110][111][112][113][114] Some analysts suggest this is also known as being a tenderpreneur, which is the early emergence of a form of kleptocracy, or predatory behaviour by a clique in the ruling elite, to generate personal wealth by capturing resources.[115]

In March 2010, addressing the allegations at a rally at a university campus, Malema, sang the struggle song "shoot the Boer"[116] (see below), and lashed out at opposition politicians. He attacked COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.[117] In August 2010, the Public Protector released a report which cleared Malema of involvement in state tenders in Limpopo. The report was received with scepticism in some quarters.[118]

Threats to journalists

A few weeks after the tender controversy was first reported, the ANC Youth League released the personal details of City Press Investigations Editor Dumisane Lubisi, his wife and his children, including their identity numbers, bank details, residential address and vehicle details.[119] Lubisi had reported on the poor construction quality of the Limpopo projects carried out by Malema's firms.[120][121] The ANCYL made claims that it had evidence that journalists were corrupt in several respects.[122][123]

In response, a large group of political journalists complained[124] to various authorities within the ANC and to the South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) stating that they viewed the release as an attempt to intimidate them into not publishing further stories, and as a threat to media freedom. They further questioned how a political organisation obtained sensitive personal information without breaking the law.[125][126] The Sowetan newspaper, in an editorial, called the steps to silence journalists "tyrannical", and accused the ANC Youth league of exploiting its closeness to "state and institutional power", to intimidate journalists who wrote about Malema.[127] SANEF also released a statement supporting the journalists.[128] Malema issued a statement that the ANCYL would continue to "expose" journalists.[129]

Journalists Piet Rampedi and Adriaan Basson were subjected to various threats and forms of intimidation while covering a story on corruption by Malema.[130]

Investigation by the Hawks

While Malema was overseas at a friend's wedding in Mauritius in late October 2011, it was reported[131] in various South African media that Malema faced various charges of corruption, fraud and money laundering – these charges having been brought forward by the special investigative unit the Hawks.[132]

At the core of the allegations is the Ratanang Trust, a trust ostensibly set up by Malema and named for his son – with his son and grandmother listed as beneficiaries – but allegedly is the focal point for payments made by politically connected businessmen in return for lucrative state tenders, mostly in the impoverished Limpopo region. Malema has denied any wrongdoing, while various investigations continue.[133]

A warrant was issued for Malema's arrest in September 2012 on charges of fraud, money laundering and corruption, in relation to a government contract.[134] The warrant was reportedly issued following an investigation into a tender awarded in 2010 to EduSolutions, to distribute textbooks to students in Limpopo. An investigation into the incident was launched by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), SA Revenue Service (Sars) and the elite police unit, the Hawks, following the discovery of dumped textbooks near a dam in Giyani.[135]

Money laundering and tax evasion charges

On 26 September 2012, Malema was charged with money laundering, relating to his awarding of lucrative government contracts in Limpopo in return for an alleged R4 million in kickbacks.[136] After a hearing at the court in Polokwane, he was granted bail of R10 000.[137]

In 2013 Malema faced charges of tax evasion to the amount of R16 million after it was revealed that he was linked to companies that obtained other lucrative contracts from the Limpopo government.[133] The case was based on payments made to the Ratanang Family Trust, but Malema reached a compromise with the revenue service in 2014. In 2016 the revenue service claimed that Malema breached the terms of the agreement, and that he was owing R18 million for arrears on his taxes, besides R2 million in interest for the 2005 to 2011 tax years. Malema countered that the Limpopo property deal did not go through and that he had settled all his debts based on the 2014 agreement, and owed nothing.[138]

Racism controversies, hate speech convictions, violence, criticism and legal issues

March 2010 hate speech conviction

On 15 March 2010, Malema was convicted of hate speech by the Equality Court of South Africa, fined R50 000 and ordered to apologise unconditionally,[8][9][10] following a 2009 incident when he told a group of Cape Town students at a South African Students' Congress (SASCO) meeting that the woman who accused President Zuma of rape had a "nice time" with him because in the morning she had "requested breakfast and taxi money".[139]

"Shoot the Boer" song

In March 2010, at a rally on a university campus Malema sang the lyrics "shoot the Boer" (Dubul' ibhunu)[140] from the anti-apartheid song "Ayasab' amagwala" (The cowards are scared).[116] "Boer" is the Afrikaans word for "farmer", but is also used as a term for any Afrikaans-speaking white person.[141] His singing was compared to similar chants by deceased Youth League leader Peter Mokaba in the early 1990s, to "kill the Boer",[116] which had previously been defined as hate speech by the South African Human Rights Commission.[142] Malema's singing of the song led to a barrage of complaints against him, both to the police, and to the commission.[142][143] The ANC said: "We wouldn't appreciate any statements against any member of our society, including whites... they are also South Africans", however, it "had not taken a decision in the matter".[144]

The South Gauteng High Court ruled on 26 March 2010 that the song (which Malema had continued singing at public gatherings)[145] was "unconstitutional and unlawful", and that any person singing it could face charges of incitement to murder, stating that the song called for the killing of the "farmer/white man"; however the ANC defended the song.[146] The ANC announced it would appeal the ruling.[citation needed][147]

On 1 April 2010, the North Gauteng High Court granted an interdict preventing Malema from publicly uttering the words of this or any other song which could be considered to be "instigating violence, distrust and/or hatred between black and white citizens in the Republic of South Africa" until the matter was heard by the Equality Court, to which the case was referred by the presiding judge.[148][149]

In the aftermath of Eugène Terre'Blanche's April 2010 murder, senior leaders of the ANC temporarily banned the singing of the song, amid concerns that struggle songs were being used to "scapegoat" the ANC and to further racial hatred, and because of concerns that ANC leaders who continued singing the songs may have been in contempt of the court orders banning the singing of the song.[150]

President Zuma, at a 10 April 2010 news conference, said Malema was "totally out of order" for ignoring ANC instructions to obey the court order banning the singing of the song. Zuma emphasised the rule of law and that the constitutional role of the judiciary "as the final arbiter in disputes" had to be respected, and that defiance of the proper procedures in place to challenge judicial rulings, made a "mockery of the judicial system [which] should not be tolerated".[58][59]

Hate speech trial and conviction

In April 2011 Afriforum brought a case of hate speech against Malema in regard to the song and several notable ANC figures such as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and secretary-general Gwede Mantashe supported him in the court battle. Aggressive and patronising questioning of black witnesses by lawyers for the Afrikaner groups bringing the suit reportedly allowed Malema to portray himself as a victim of white persecution.[151]

On 12 September 2011, Malema was convicted of hate speech.[152]

December 2013 arrest

In December 2013, Malema was arrested for allegedly speeding 215 km/h in a 120 km/h zone in his BMW along the N1 near Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng.[153] He was released on R5,000 bail.[154]

Violent language

Malema stated at a political rally in 2016, "[the EFF] are not calling for the slaughter of white people‚ at least for now."[155] The Democratic Alliance and the group AfriForum criticised him for "violent and threatening language", while the ANC declined to comment, saying "he was addressing his own party supporters."

Malema stated at another political rally in 2018, "We are starting with this whiteness. We are cutting the throat of whiteness", in the context of plans to remove DA-affiliated Athol Trollip from his position as mayor of Nelson Mandela Municipality.[156] DA leader Mmusi Maimane labelled Malema's words "racist attacks" and "racist hatred", which he claimed "most people reject".[157]

Following the 2019 death of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe Malema tweeted a number of controversial quotes from the late Mugabe that were racially prejudiced towards white people. Most notable was the quote that "The only white man you can trust is a dead white man".[158][159] The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) condemned the quote and stated that they would be taking Malema to court for allegedly spreading hate speech.[160]

During a 2021 session of the Pan-African Parliament Malema threatened to kill an MP from Mali.[161][162]

During a 2022 Equality Court trial brought against him for hate speech by AfriForum, Malema stated that he could not rule out the possibility that, in future, he may call for the slaughter of white people, and explicitly refused to pledge that he would never do so.[163]

Comments about De Klerk's death

On 11 November 2021, the day F.W. de Klerk died, Malema sparked an uproar after tweeting, "Thank you God." followed by five phone emojis, in response to the former president's death.[164][165][166]

Malema later expressed gratitude that de Klerk had not been given a state funeral.[167][168]

Depiction in mainstream media

Malema is known for his controversial statements and has become a frequent target for lampooning. Initially, Cartoonists Zapiro and Jeremy Nell frequently drew him dressed in nappies.[169] More recently, as Malema's public profile has grown, he has been described by critics in the media as a demagogue[170][171] and even a fascist.[172][173]

He was listed in Time's Least Influential People of 2010,[174] whereas conversely Forbes magazine named him as one of the "10 Youngest Power Men in Africa" in September 2011.[175] Writing in the Sowetan, Andile Mngxitama described Malema as "an opportunist who raised these issues [nationalisation, land reform etc], not to solve them, but to trick the poor who have been waiting for a better life for all for almost 20 years now under your party's rule ... Instead of leading the new struggle as a selfless leader of the poor, you only pay lip service to the plight of our people while you amass great amounts of wealth through your political influence."[176]

Between 2010 and 2013 popular media have referred to the Malema Dilemma[177] to describe the duality between Malema's electoral popularity and the consequences of his controversial statements.[178][179][180]


In February 2013, it was reported that Malema's property would be auctioned off to pay a R16.1 million debt he owed the South African Revenue Service, after he failed to meet payment deadlines for unpaid taxes.[181] Malema entered into a further deal to pay back the money, however, this deal collapsed in March 2015, after Malema failed once again to pay.[182]

Personal life

Malema is known for his oratory skills.[183] He married his long-time girlfriend in a private ceremony under heavy security in his hometown Seshego in 2014.[184] Their first son Munzhedzi was born in 2016.[185] Their second son Kopano was born in 2018.[186] Malema also has a son named Ratanang from a previous relationship with Maropeng Ramohlale.[187]

2018 personal residence scandal

Eyewitness News reported that party leader Julius Malema's family residence in Hyde Park, Johannesburg was owned by and located next door to controversial[188][189] cigarette businessman and Carnilinx company executive Adriano Mazzotti.[190][191] The article also stated that Mazzotti donated R200,000 to the EFF for the party's electoral registration for the 2019 election and that fellow Carnilinx executive Kyle Phillips gave a R1 million loan to Malema.[190] Malema stated that his wife rented the property and laid a complaint against the media for publishing the location of his home.[192]

Death of grandmother

On 4 May 2019, on the eve of the Economic Freedom Fighters' final rally ahead of 8 May South African General Elections, Malema's grandmother, Koko Sarah, who brought him up following the death of his mother, died after a short illness.[193][194][195]


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Further reading

  • Forde, Fiona (2012). An inconvenient youth: Julius Malema and the 'new' ANC (Fully revised and updated ed.). London: Portobello Books. ISBN 9781846274565.

External links