On February 11, 1990, Nelson Mandela addressed his country, Africa, and the world for the first time since his imprisonment.
He spoke effusively of peace and reconciliation and of the need to wipe away the legacy of apartheid’s failed policies.
Towards that end, he pushed for a general amnesty for the majority of those responsible for the oppression of the past. Pardoning those guilty of heinous and racially animated crimes authorized by the apartheid government in the hopes of forging a newly united nation into the future.
Perhaps Nelson Mandela’s greatest critic in South African politics was the former ANC Youth League (ANCYL) leader, Julius Malema, now the Commander and Chief (CIC) of the Economic Freedom Fighters or EFF, who once said that Nelson Mandela “returned from prison he got separated with Winnie Mandela and went to stay in a house of the rich white men” – a harsh rebuke.
But he goes on to charitably say in Mandela’s defense that he was too old to continue the revolution and therefore left the task up to them to complete.
The EFF is the official political opposition party to the African National Congress or ANC in South Africa.
Malema created the EFF in 2013 after being unceremoniously drummed out of the ANCYL for what the leadership of the ANC viewed as his radical positions regarding land reform.
Last week the South African parliament passed the Land Expropriation motion, tabled by Julius Malema, authorizing the government of South Africa to pursue a land reform policy without compensating current landholders, the majority of whom happen to be white.
Needless to say, the criticism from the global Anglo-Saxon diaspora was as deafening as it was unreflectively hypocritical.
Explosive charges abounded with an oncoming “White Genocide” that never quite gets here.
The truth is that white South Africans and white people generally have a collectively convenient case amnesia when it comes to African history, the centuries-long and irrefutable policies of Black Genocide engaged in by both the British and the Dutch.
For example, in 1850 Sir George Grey confiscates land from black South African people leaving them to search for work on farms.
In another example of a systemic policy of black genocide, on May 16, 1838 Voortrekkers (Dutch farmers), led by Andries Pretorius, fight and defeat the Zulu at the banks of the Ncome River (Battle of Blood River) and dispossess them of their land.
Subsequently, they establish the Republic of Natalia.
From 1811-12 the British, assisted by about 700 men of the Cape Regiment, drive an estimated 20,000 Xhosa men, women and children over the Fish River from Zuurveld in the Fourth War of Dispossession.
They then establish 27 military garrisons along the River to prevent Xhosa people from returning and station more British troops.
What I have just outlined are real policies of systemic genocide and criminal land theft, not conspiracy theories based off of high crime rates.
These historical crimes are real and have left an indelible legacy of generational poverty which must be addressed with radical, sensible and targeted government policies if South Africa’s economics and politics are ever to be normalized.
In 2016, just three years after its creation, Julius Malema’s EFF garnered 8.31% of the vote in municipal elections. This is truly a testament to his political acumen.
They were able to do so because in Jacob Zuma, Malema had found an excellent foil for his boisterous diatribes about the failings of his former political party.
He would create media spectacles about Jacob Zuma’s suspicious and conspicuous consumption patterns.
Malema would mercilessly needle Zuma for his pervasive ties to corrupt business owners.
All of which led to the formers ouster as the head of the ANC for corruption.
Now Julius Malema faces a decidedly more formidable political opponent in Cyril Ramaphosa, the man who preceded Zuma as President of South Africa.
Unlike Zuma, Ramaphosa is a smooth political operator but he lacks the natural base of support Zuma had, relying instead on the political machinery of the ANC.
He is not without his warts as well though because as Malema makes reference in 2015, Ramaphosa was responsible for the wholesale massacre of black miners striking for better conditions at a Lonmin mining site in Marikana.
The jury is still out on if Julius Malema will be able to pivot his messaging effectively against him but if the past few days are anything to go by the pied piper may just be able to make good on his political party’s namesake and deliver economic freedom.