“Until Julius comes, that’s how long the ANC will rule.”
So said acclaimed author and journalist at Daily Maverick, Richard Poplak, whose book Until Julius comes is being launched in Cape Town this week. He was speaking at Stellenbosch University’s Journalism Department yesterday.
His statement follows President Jacob Zuma famously saying that “the ANC will rule until Jesus comes”.
Poplak’s book, a compilation of articles that he wrote during the 2014 elections, “very quickly became about the rise of the EFF: how quickly and how profoundly they exploded onto the political scene”.
“At the start … they were a joke, with Julius Malema the rip off artist of rip off artists.
“But I soon realised that this was a proper phenomenon, which was going to massively impact South African politics, not just in the short term, but for the next decade.
“What makes Malema as powerful as he is right now is the fact that he has tapped into a very, very real anger and he is able to understand it.”
Nicola de Jager, Political Science lecturer at the Stellenbosch University, blames the ANC and the media for his power: “The ANC created an environment that makes people susceptible to the EFF” and the media is responsible for “the coverage and leverage the party is given.”
Poplak defended his reporting of Malema, adding that the politician “knows exactly what to give us. The biggest story in South Africa is the EFF, hands down”.
He believes Malema is a “great political mind”, who “knows this game better than anyone around. It doesn’t matter that he got a G in Woodwork”.
“He is incredibly self-aware”: from what he does, says and even wears.
“We cannot underestimate how powerful that performance in parliament was.
“On Thursday Julius Malema did something that has been passed around across the country. He stood up to the bad guy and gave him hell, right in the Luthuli House.
“That was a massive game changer.”
The EFF knew “If we sit back in parliament and act like Mmusi Maimane right now, all ‘yes sir, no sir’, then we are dead, but if we go in and we revolt then watch what we can do.
“The DA never had the balls to do so.”
De Jager went on to say that “parliament will never be the same again. Whether this is for the best or better remains to be seen.
“Rules of the law provide a framework in which people operate. If those rules are undone you undo an entire society.”
She associated Julius Malema and the EFF with the gladiator games: “You are entertaining your masses. And your masses are loving it. Meanwhile Rome is crumbling.”