This article seeks to dispel a false popular notion that President Jacob Zuma and his arch-nemesis Julius Malema “do not share any profound similarities and attractions in common”.
There are some key substantive similarities between the country’s current president and the former president of the ANC Youth League.
Malema’s present political posturing and manoeuvrings are an unmistakable replication of Pres. Zuma’s survival tactics and strategies.
Pres. Zuma’s axing as the country’s deputy president by then president Thabo Mbeki in 2005 became a blessing in disguise for Malema.
At that epochal moment, Juju was still serving as Limpopo provincial secretary of the ANC Youth League.
Malema was never politically or personally close to Zuma before his axing.
In late 2005, then president of the ANC Youth League, Fikile Mbalula, facilitated a strategic collaboration between Zuma and Malema.
Malema was roped into the Pres. Zuma camp in order to add anarchy and militancy to Msholozi’s mass mobilisation campaigns against Mbeki.
Msholozi was amazingly impressed by Juju’s anarchic militancy and inconsequential personality.
When Malema’s election as Youth League president was chaotically disputed by his presidential contender Saki Mofokeng in 2008, Pres. Zuma weighed in and imposed Juju as league president.
Between 2005 and 2010 Malema witnessed at a very close range Msholozi’s shrewd political manoeuvring and unconventional survival tactics.
When Malema was expelled from the ANC in 2012, many commentators falsely presumed that was “an end of times” for the firebrand leader.
All the mainstream media outlets reported extensively on “the rise and fall of Julius Malema”.
Juju re-employed Zuma’s mass mobilisation strategies and resurrected himself from the political wilderness.
Malema began crisscrossing the country in late 2013, canvassing support for the possible formation of the Economic Freedom Fighters.
Just like Zuma, Malema used his appearances in courts for corruption charges as profitable avenues for mass mobilisation.
These two politicians silently and privately admire each other’s very unorthodox and unconventional skills and survival capabilities.
Zuma contributed immensely to the reshaping of Malema’s tactical posturing and political psychology. In one way or the other, Juju also influenced and readjusted Msholozi’s political management tactics.
When it comes to purging of political opponents and adversaries, Malema is arguably the best of the best.
His dictatorial tendencies and autocratic style of leadership became palpable when he was Cosas president between 2001 and 2003.
It is more probable that Malema lectured Zuma on “the ruthless purging of political opponents and adversaries”.
Those who served with Juju in Cosas and the ANCYL will attest that he is exceptionally gifted in suppressing dissent and ostracising opponents.
When Zuma became state president in 2009, he implemented, Malema style, the ruthless dismissal of ministers and deputy ministers whom he perceived as adversaries.
Another attractive similarity between JZ and Juju is that they both live an extremely pretentious lifestyle.
In public, these two politicians pretentiously act as the champions of the poor, the unemployed and the homeless. But in reality and privately, they pursue a lifestyle characterised by sheer opulence, copious luxury and unbridled extravagance.
Malema is a youthful prototype of Zuma and they both possess a shared political psychology, inconsequential personality and a streetwise demeanour.
And even if Juju might become the country’s president one day, he is likely to become another President Zuma.
The nation should not be misled by an appearance of rivalry between these two politicians, because in reality they share many traits and dispositions in common.
These two leaders are only interested in the furthering of their own narrow ambitions and ulterior motives.
But on the basis of visionary leadership and moral rectitude, it is impossible to tell whether Malema is better/worse than Zuma or vice versa.
They use demagogy to sustain power, writes Elvis Masoga.