Hendri Pelser
3 minute read
14 Jan 2021
4:14 pm

ANALYSIS: God help me, I agree with Julius Malema

Hendri Pelser

Not once, since the State of Disaster was announced in March last year, has Cyril Ramaphosa subjected himself to a Q&A session with journalists.

EFF leader Julius Malema. Picture: EFF/YouTube

It did not take Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema long to get warmed up during his press conference on Thursday.

And when he started firing, he gave us one of those Juju specials we have come to miss over the last couple of coronavirus-fuelled lockdown months.

And God help me, there were a couple of elements that I completely agreed with.

He came down hard on government’s decision to close the land borders “imposed by the colonists”.

What is the point of locking a gate if there is no fence, the EFF commander-in-chief asked?

What is the point indeed?

Closing the land borders due to massive queues did not solve any problems. The queues, kilometres long in some cases, were created by years of neglect, underinvestment, bureaucratic red tape, corruption and exceptionally bad planning.

Anyone with half a brain would have known that there would be a massive influx of people into the country following the December holidays.

But no. The executive decision was to just close the borders.

Malema did not have many nice things to say about South Africa’s commander-in-chief either.

ALSO READ: Mashaba slams Malema’s ‘hypocritical, unconstitutional’ call for election delay

Alluding to President Cyril Ramaphosa as a “mad man from Weskoppies”, Malema had a few stinging rebukes, including saying that Ramaphosa and his government were not providing any effective leadership at the moment.

Rightly, he asked, what happened to all the preparations that were supposed to take place during the hard lockdown?

Where are the hospital beds that were promised? Why are we running short of oxygen at the moment? What happened to the R500 billion?

These are all valid questions.

Questions that Ramaphosa and his government have not answered.

Not once, since the State of Disaster was announced in March last year, has Ramaphosa subjected himself to a Q&A session with journalists, for example.

Yes, there were a couple of live virtual imbizo’s with the president, where he was given some sweetheart questions from the public to answer, but these haven’t taken place in many, many months either.

At the same time, Parliament is in no position to provide effective oversight over the executive.

For example, once it became clear the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) was effectively running the country, there was a major backtrack and propaganda campaign to make us believe that it was actually just advising Cabinet.

Nevertheless, Cabinet has had free rein to do as it pleases as the State of Disaster is extended month after month.

At the same time, opposition politics have become largely meaningless in South Africa as we continue to be ruled by decree.

And this makes Malema and his EFF significantly less relevant. Hence, his request to have the local government elections postponed.

Malema said that in order for the elections to be fair, political parties needed enough time to campaign on the ground.

This is obviously not possible during a pandemic.

While he refused to answer a question on whether the postponement was actually due to the EFF’s bad performance in recent by-elections, there is truth to having enough time to campaign.

The ruling ANC and its deployees in high office have had carte blanche, to a large extent, for many, many months.

From banning open-toed shoes and T-shirts, booze, smokes and travel, the executive has been able to operate in a manner never seen before in a democratic South Africa.

And, portions of the population will become used to this form of governance. And that is exceptionally dangerous for a multi-party democratic system.

So, God help me because Juju actually made some sense today.

Hendri Pelser is The Citizen’s acting digital editor.

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