This is the biography of Julius Malema, a South African politician and the president of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). The EFF is a radical leftist party that advocates for land expropriation without compensation and nationalisation of mines and banks. He is also a former president of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL)
ALSO READ: Trevor Noah Biography
Early Life and Education
Julius Sello Malema was born on March 3, 1981, in Seshego, Polokwane in the former Transvaal Province. His mother, Flora Mahlodi Malema, was a domestic worker and a single parent who died when he was nine years old. His grandmother, Sarah Malema, also worked as a domestic worker, raised him.
Malema joined the African National Congress (ANC) at the age of nine and became involved in politics at an early age. He was elected as the chairman of the Youth League branch in Seshego and the regional chairman in 1995. He also became the president of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) in 1999, leading several protests and campaigns for better education and facilities for black students.
Malema completed his high school education at Mohlakaneng High School in Seshego in 2001. He enrolled at the University of South Africa (UNISA) in 2008, where he obtained a diploma in youth development in 2010 and a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2011. The firebrand later completed a Bachelor of Arts in communications and African languages in March 2016 and an honours degree in philosophy.
Julius Malema ANC Youth League Presidency
Malema rose to national prominence as an outspoken supporter of Jacob Zuma, then the ANC president and later the President of South Africa. He campaigned for Zuma’s election as ANC president at the party’s 52nd National Conference in Polokwane in 2007, where Zuma defeated Thabo Mbeki, the incumbent president. Malema also defended Zuma against corruption and rape charges, making controversial statements that drew criticism and condemnation.
In April 2008, Malema was elected as the president of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) at a controversial party conference in Bloemfontein, where he defeated Saki Mofokeng and Lebogang Maile. He became one of the most influential and powerful figures within the ANC, using his position to mobilise support for Zuma and to advance his own political agenda.
Malema advocated for radical policies such as the nationalisation of mines and land expropriation without compensation. Some senior ANC leaders and business groups opposed this. He also clashed with several political opponents and critics, including Mbeki, Helen Zille, Julius Nyerere and Robert Mugabe.
Fallout With President Jacob Zuma And Disciplinary Issues
Malema’s relationship with Zuma deteriorated after the latter became president of South Africa in 2009. Malema accused Zuma of failing to deliver on his promises and of being influenced by white capitalists. He also expressed his support for Kgalema Motlanthe, then the deputy president of South Africa, to succeed Zuma as ANC president at the party’s 53rd National Conference in Mangaung in 2012.
Malema faced several disciplinary charges from the ANC for bringing the party into disrepute and sowing divisions within its ranks. In May 2010, he was found guilty of disrupting a meeting between Zuma and COSATU leaders and of singing “Dubul’ ibhunu” (“Shoot the Boer”), an anti-apartheid song that was deemed hate speech by a court ruling.
Malema paid a R10,000 fine and attended anger management classes and political education courses. The ANC also suspended him from the ANCYL for six months, but suspended this for three years on condition that he did not repeat his offences.
In August 2011, The ANC again charged for sowing divisions within the party and undermining Zuma’s authority. They accused him of calling for regime change in Botswana and comparing Zuma’s leadership style to Mbeki’s. In November 2011, he was found guilty and sentenced to five years’ suspension from the ANC. He appealed against this verdict, but ANC’s National Disciplinary Committee of Appeal (NDCA) dismissed his appeal in February 2012. The NDCA also increased his sentence to expulsion from the ANC.
Economic Freedom Fighters | Formation and Leadership
After his expulsion from the ANC, Julius Malema remained politically active and vocal on various issues affecting South Africa. He formed alliances with other disgruntled former ANC members and supporters who shared his vision of economic transformation and social justice.
Malema also maintained his support for Motlanthe and campaigned against Zuma’s re-election as ANC president at the Mangaung conference in December 2012. However, Zuma won the election by a landslide, defeating Motlanthe and securing a second term as ANC president and South Africa’s president.
In July 2013, Malema launched the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which he described as a “radical, leftist, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movement”. The EFF believes in nationalising mines and banks, land expropriation without compensation, free education, health care and housing, and establishing a state-owned bank and mining company. The EFF also adopted a distinctive red beret as its symbol and uniform, inspired by the revolutionary movements of Venezuela, Cuba and Burkina Faso. Malema became president and “commander-in-chief” of the EFF, with Floyd Shivambu as his deputy.
Biography: Julius Malema And EFF In The Elections
How Julius Malema Fared In 2014
The EFF contested the 2014 general elections and won 6.35% of the national vote and 25 seats in parliament. It became the third-largest party in parliament after the ANC and the Democratic Alliance (DA). Malema became a Member of Parliament and the leader of the opposition.
He led several protests and disruptions in parliament, demanding that Zuma pay back the money spent on his private residence in Nkandla and that he resign over corruption allegations. The EFF leader also challenged Zuma on various issues such as unemployment, inequality, poverty, crime, xenophobia, land reform, and health.
2016 Local Government Elections
The EFF also contested the 2016 local government elections. It won 8.19% of the national vote and 761 seats in municipal councils across the country. The party became a kingmaker in several hung municipalities, where it entered into coalitions or voting agreements with other opposition parties such as the DA and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) to oust the ANC from power. The EFF also participated in several demos against Zuma’s presidency, such as the #ZumaMustFall and #FeesMustFall.
In February 2018, Zuma resigned as president of South Africa after losing the support of his own party. The ANC had elected Cyril Ramaphosa as its new president at its 54th National Conference in Nasrec in December 2017. Ramaphosa succeeded Zuma as president of South Africa and promised to fight corruption and revive the economy. Malema welcomed Zuma’s resignation but criticised Ramaphosa’s presidency, accusing him of being a white monopoly capital puppet. He also continued to push for land expropriation without compensation, which the ANC under Ramaphosa’s leadership adopted as a policy.
The EFF contested the 2019 general elections, where it increased its support to 10.79% of the national vote. It gained 44 seats in the National Assembly, making it the second-largest opposition party after the DA. Malema became a Member of Parliament again and the leader of the opposition. He vowed to hold Ramaphosa accountable for his actions and to advance the interests of the marginalized in South Africa.
Biography: Julius Malema Personal Life
Malema married Mantwa Matlala in December 2014 in a traditional ceremony in Seshego. They have two children together: Munzhedzi (born in 2016) and Kopano (born in 2018). Malema also has two older children from previous relationships: Ratanang (born in 2006) and Gontse (born in 2009).
Malema has faced several legal battles and controversies throughout his political career. He has been convicted of hate speech for making derogatory comments about Zuma’s rape accuser at a rally. In September 2011, he appeared in court for singing “Dubul’ ibhunu” at another rally. He paid R50,000 fine for the two offences and ordered to apologise publicly.
In September 2012, Malema faced fraud, money laundering and racketeering charges for allegedly receiving kickbacks from a R52 million tender awarded to On-Point Engineering by the Limpopo Department of Roads and Transport in 2009. Malema faced accusations of being a hidden shareholder of On-Point Engineering through his family trust, Ratanang Family Trust.
He denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the charges were politically motivated to silence him. The case was postponed several times until the Polokwane High Court struck it off the roll.