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Pieter-Dirk Uys

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Pieter-Dirk Uys on Julius Malema on the Eve of the ANCYL Congress

– Pieter-Dirk Uys, The Times, 16 June 2011

Viva Julius Malema! Viva! He has my full support. I hope he goes from strength to strength, from re-elected President of the ANC Youth League, via Deputy President of the Republic, to President of South Africa. He is trying so hard to follow in the footsteps of greater youth leaders of the past, Young Lions (not always so young) who broke out of the kindergarten and put the old guard in their place.

I anxiously await every utterance from the moving mouth of this great gift to us in my profession. Satirists, comedians and cartoonists could not make biting fun of Nelson Mandela, other than gentle jests about his ethnic shirts and bizarre tastes in loyalties (see Gadaffi).  Comparisons with Jesus offended the Christians; parallels to Moses upset the Jews. Most of us drew the line with cartoons of Madiba and Mohammed.

But with Julius Malema there is no need for boundaries. We don’t need to be respectful, because he has no manners. We’ll never have to compare him to great liberators in our history, as he never was in the struggle. Julius came from childhood to manhood, surfing the tsunami-wave of liberation, unable to think until activated by an order. Penny in the slot and pull the handle. The type of office-boy a CEO dreams of having: always there to nod agreement and sprint off to the café for the boss’s  Diet Coke. A perfect combination of brawn, brown, brashness, boldness, banality and Johnny Walker.

Juju is a born fool in the Shakespearean sense of the word. We seem to love his bombast and swagger, his paunch and passion; easy to copy; funny to watch. We appreciate his sound bytes — hilarious and with just the necessary amount of political incorrectness to give his one-liners a memorable punch:  ‘all whites are criminals’, ‘kill for Zuma’, ‘kiss the boer’, ‘Madam in the kitchen’, ‘ the tea lady of Zille’, ‘Thabo is the best leader the ANC has had’. We will nationalize? We will confiscate land without compensation? Fresh from the Mugabe Idiots’  Guide to the Economy.

As a satirist I have always given credit to those leaders who have shown brilliance in creating material for me to use in my work. P.W. gave me all those Bothas:  Pik,  Fanie, Bothalezi and the Krokodil himself. Terre’blanche boomed and blah’d about  ‘ons land, ons volk, onslaught’  and ended up with torn green underpants on CNN.

Thabo gave us the dark comedy of a tipsy beetroot queen — and insane denials, leading to the tragic legacy of 360,000 unnecessary funerals and an economy crippled by death.  Comrade Motlanthe  went before we could  find a hook to hang our comedy. (Happily ou Petrus is still on duty with a vestige of old-style ANC common sense and logic.) Mshowerlozi Zuma zips down, pokes in, comes and goes HIV-negative, now truly the Father of the Nation.

May Julius be with us for a long time and inspire us with everything he says, does, threatens, promises, contradicts or denies. We have created him and we must live with our folly. Headlines and editorials enshrine him as a farce to be reckoned with, and thanks to Agriforum and Solidarity as his public relations departments, he will laugh all the way to Tuynhuis.

When freedom is taken for granted, it usually unravels from the centre. After 17 years of ANC business-as-usual, the gaping vacuum in leadership was there. Anyone with political instinct, a big mouth and total disregard for responsibility could fill it. Enter the Julius who is no Caesar, promising each supporter a gold mine at the end of the rainbow. Making racist jibes fashionable and sexist put-downs manly. All part of his hip-hop for the middle-aged youth revolution, all pantingly reported by a sensation-hungry media.

We must just be careful of one hilarious fact: Julius Malema and his double-G in woodwork. A big laugh first time round, until one remembers that Adolf Hitler had a double-G in Art.

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