Zimbabwe Needs A Julius Malema
This opinion piece on Julius Malema and the Zimbabwe question was first written in 2011 by conversationalist and @263chat founder Nigel Sir Nige Mugamu and remains quite relevant today.
We publish it here unredacted.
A few months ago, I was interviewed by a local journalist. I guess she wanted to pick my brain about a few things. I’m in business so naturally time is critical to me. Before we met I asked her how long the interview would take. She informed me that it wouldn’t take slightly longer than others because I was the ‘chatty type’ and that I should make allowances for this. I laughed at this of course. I obviously haven’t developed a complex from this comment but this seemingly innocent comment has had a positive effect on various other areas of my life. This blog is yet again another example of this.
You see, my journalist friend was right. I am the chatty type. I like to discuss, share ideas, engage with others and hence why I blog. I am convinced that Zimbabwe needs to address some of our issues as a nation – because like any family we do have issues! I firmly believe that at this very junction Zimbabwe needs a Juju type of person. The kind of person who will play this crucial role in helping us a nation debate some key issues openly without fear of retaliation or retribution. Zimbabwe doesn’t need Juju himself as he is affectionately known in some quarters, but we needour own version. I haven’t met Juju yet but what I see from the various media sources is that this is a man who gets people from various backgrounds talking – and there’s nothing wrong with talking! You often hear the white man from that AWB background calling him all sorts of names under the sun. You’ll hear the ‘nouveau riche’ black female dissecting his various statements, agreeing with him on some valid points but also criticising him because of these alleged corruption charges for example. The point is: from where I’m standing right now, I believe the man gets people talking about what is happening in South Africa in some small way.
Recently on Twitter I asked the question ‘what is it about Juju that makes people hate him so much’? One of my Twitter friends responded with this ‘With Juju its not so much hatred as it is fear. He represents the most radical and unstable elements of black society’. Does he really? I thought that response was very interesting. I had a meeting with a white South African business associate sometime in May this year. Like anyone I meet from South Africa these days, I typically ask them what they think of Julius Malema’s influence in South Africa right now. Many business associates I ask often choose not to answer this question but in this case, he (Mr Whingefotein – not his real name) went on about Juju’s R10 million house and his various other assets. He mentioned the infamous government tenders awarded and how unfair life was in the ‘new South Africa’ for the white population. Essentially Mr Whingefotein didn’t really answer the question in my opinion. He did however concede that Juju was having an impact on society especially amongst the youth, and how he could possibly be a South African president in the future.
Why am I advocating for our own Juju? Firstly, at this stage in our history, I firmly believe that Zimbabwe needs another political face to appeal specifically to the youth. I have heard many a government minister speaking about the importance of the youth in Zimbabwe and I agree. I think the majority of politically conscious citizens would like to see a fresh face within Zimbabwe’s political circles. Mugabe, Tsvangirai, Mutambara and now Ncube’s views are all plastered across the various daily newspaper headlines for example, but I believe that we have come to the crossroads in a way. I believe we need something new and fresh. Could you imagine if we had a fresh face to enter the fray especially at this very junction? Can you imagine the impact this might have on politics going forward?
I wouldn’t necessarily call Juju a conversationalist but he does spark various debates across the broad South African spectrum it seems. A conversation based on some of our most painful past must take place in order for Zimbabwe to move forward in any meaningful way I believe. What really happened in Matabeleland between 1982 and 1984? Why must Gukurahundi be discussed behind closed doors? Like any controversial family issue that hasn’t been discussed openly, why shouldn’t it form part of the national debate or conversation? Most can relate to this but these sensitive issuesalways find some way of re-surfacing especially when heated discussions take place between family members. Why should we wait for that explosive moment to take place for us to deal with our issues when we know that they exist right now? Let us all discuss the election process in Zimbabwe so we know what to expect but more importantly dispel the various rumours that have plagued the election process in the past. Let us all discuss the proposed indigenisation and empowerment laws openly whilst taking into account the various races and social classes in Zimbabwe? Let us discuss the Zimbabwean identity because a time has come for us to address this pertinent issue I feel. You see, like any growing family that discusses grandmother’s funeral and the subsequent arrangements, we as a nation need to openly discuss these things now. I can see how our own Juju could appeal to the various elements across the political landscape while most importantly engaging the youth in Zimbabwe.
Sir Nige is a conversationalist and runs the award-winning platform @263chat. You can read more of his work from www.sirnige.com