What Desai forgets to mention about Malema in ‘Julius vs the ANC’


In his latest Al Jazeera documentary, “Julius vs the ANC”, filmmaker Rehad Desai portrays Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) commander-in-chief Julius Malema as a rising revolutionary who offers hope to working class South Africans. But Desai glosses over Malema’s controversies.

Malema first made headlines as ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president and for being a bulldog-like defender of President Jacob Zuma, particularly during his rape-trial era. Today, he is one of Zuma’s fiercest critics.

The documentary, which chronicles the last five years of South African politics and the role Malema and the EFF have played in it, has a surprising lack of female voices and fails to address legitimate concerns about Malema’s integrity.

Here are three things we wish Desai had addressed.

1. Malema plays “Madibuseng”

Malema is guilty of political flip-flopping. Journalist Austil Mathebula describes him as playing “madibuseng”. “Madibuseng, a Sesotho word, is best described by Kwaito group Trompies as someone who acts like a traffic light – sometimes he’s red, sometimes he’s green, sometimes he’s orange,” Mathebula writes.

When Malema was axed from his position as president of the ANCYL he said that he wouldn’t start his own political party. “My blood runs black, green, and gold. I will never form a political party. Neither would I take a post that seeks to oppose the African National Congress. I will never do that,” he said in a press briefing after he was removed from the ANCYL.

A year later, he launched the EFF.

Desai comments on the gravity of this moment, “It was as if he was declaring war on his former party, the ANC.” There isn’t any discussion on exactly why Malema started the EFF. Is he declaring war because he wants revenge? Is Malema now apologising for giving us Zuma because of Zuma’s ineptitude and corruption? Desai doesn’t investigate why Malema once said that he would “kill for Zuma”. Now, he takes every opportunity to put Zuma down.

Malema has also apologised for supporting advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane for the position of Public Protector. “We just took a puppet from Gupta’s kitchen and said ‘let’s give her a chance’”.

Desai fails to clarify why Malema makes these sudden turnarounds.

Mathebula has a theory though. “He’s very quick to make poor judgments and pronounce on matters he clearly doesn’t fully understand,” he writes.

2. His blatant misogyny

Malema has made some problematic statements about women in his time. He said that Fezekile Khuzwayo (“Khwezi”), who accused Zuma of rape, probably had a nice time because “when a woman didn’t enjoy it, she leaves early in the morning. Those who had a nice time will wait until the sun comes out, request breakfast and ask for taxi money.” He was criticised for victim-blaming and silencing rape victims.

It was only after he was taken to the Equality Court that Malema publicly apologised to Khuzwayo for his remarks.

He has never apologised for describing former DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko as “a tea girl” of “madam” Helen Zille.

3. His fraud, racketeering and money-laundering charges

In 2013 Malema was charged with fraud, racketeering, and money laundering related to government contracts. He and his business associates were accused of improperly receiving money related to a contract for the construction of roads in Limpopo between the provincial government, On Point Engineering, and Ratanang Trust. It is alleged that Malema made nearly R4 million off the deal. The charges against him were thrown out of court but, according to the National Prosecuting Authority, this doesn’t mean he’s been acquitted.

The last question Desai asks in the documentary is whether the EFF and its CIC will be able to convince the nation that they can be both respectable and revolutionary. “In the ongoing battle of Julius Malema versus the ANC, the question of whether it’s possible for Julius to lead both a constitutional party and be a revolutionary, remains to be seen.” Either way, there’s nothing reassuring about a politician with a fog of corruption charges hanging over them. We’ve seen that movie before.

Featured image by Rumana Akoob


  1. malema also had a lot of interviews stating he made a mistake. Also apologised to President Mbeki and others. That is why kathrada wanted to take him to Robyn Island.

  2. Mema must take full responsibility for state we are in today. Would they have behaved &isten to the voice of reason & fountain of wisdom then Pres T Mbeki. How can we trust him?

  3. Firstly, Desai was basically talking about Julius Malema’s impact on the ANC, SIMPLE. Why do you then have to go to Julius Malema wrong doings that has nothing to do with him vs the ANC?

    Julius Malema changing his stance on Zuma should never be an issue, he is a human being and what I like is his policies on land and nationalization never changed. We all thought thigs about certain individuals at some stage and we were forced to retract.

    On courts and On-Point, well I guess if Julius Malema was really guilty then court should have done its job because he always presented himself to answer his case until NPA failed to proceed. He never fought his way to be out of court.

    THE DESAI DOCUMENTARY IS ABOUT JULIUS VS THE ANC and you want him to focus on Julius in the ANC?

  4. The author, Nolwandle, missed the whole point of the documentary. Simply is not about Malema problems and life. The title of the documentary simply tells us what the focus will be on. I don’t see why he should have then focused on kill for zuma and change on Mbeki or fraud and racketeering court case or the Khwezi issue.

    This article is flop and fantastic piece of nonsense. I repeat, these points were right if the title was ‘Julius in/and the ANC’

  5. If Malema and his bunch of tankies in the EFF is what qualifies as “hope” for workers in South Africa, it means there is no hope.

  6. dont even forget to write he explain why he say that he will kill zuma, all his statement are clear but not to those who want him have a bad reputation Malema is not sexist at all.


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