JULIUS Malema, speaking publicly for the first time since his expulsion as ANC Youth League president, boasted proudly yesterday of the widespread support he still commanded.
Malema said he would triumph one day – not within the youth league, but in the mother body as its president.
“I will lead this ANC. You must put it [this date] in the archives. I am going to be a leader of the African National Congress – no matter what time it takes,” he boasted, flanked by suspended ANCYL members Floyd Shivambu and Sindiso Magaqa at a press conference in Johannesburg.
Sitting in a lecture room at the Gordon Institute of Business Science, a defiant Malema clearly felt that his support base was broad enough to protect him from disappearing into the political wilderness.
Although his expulsion prohibits him from speaking about party matters and convening any public gatherings in the name of the ANC, a confident and chirpy Malema – wearing his trademark youth league beret and a white shirt with the party’s ANC logo – warned nothing would stop him from achieving his ambition.
“We are prepared to fight this battle until we reclaim our position in the ANC as that is were we belong.”
Speaking in his usual blustery and confident style, Malema vowed: “We are going straight to the ANC … 200km per hour there. We are not going to turn back, this is our home.”
Malema’s utterance came a day after weekend newspapers reported that Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale was ready to step into the leadership race for presidency of the ANC – in direct contravention of the party’s decree that open electioneering would only start in October once the branches had made their nominations.
Malema, in an about-turn yesterday, appeared to have thrown his lot in with Sexwale, despite earlier signs that he would support Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
Malema’s open support for Sexwale comes a day after it was reported that the former business tycoon’s company, Mvelaphanda Holdings, had paid at least R100000 into Malema’s Ratanang Family Trust.
Yesterday, Malema refused to discuss his financial affairs and whether Sexwale was his benefactor.
But, he proudly stated, Sexwale was the first to come to his assistance and offer help when his troubles began.
Malema owes the South African Revenue Service millions in unpaid taxes and some of his allies are currently testifying in a judicial inquiry into tax evasion, but Malema insisted he was not having sleepless nights.
“I have no worry [sic] about that … Whatever happens now is not giving me nightmares.”
His financial affairs, including trouble with the taxman, has been splashed in papers since last year.
“It is a personal matter. It doesn’t belong to you. How much I owe the taxman is not your business.”
Malema said his trust had uplifted the lives of the poor and contributed to the education of children. He said he did not have records of these transactions, but they included a contribution towards the building of a house for former 800m world champion Caster Semenya.
He dispelled reports he was bankrupt and that construction to a posh Sandown mansion had been put on hold as he had not paid the builders.
“Leave our houses alone … We are very patient people,” said Malema, adding that journalists would still hear of lovely tea parties hosted at his home.