Julius Malema, the president of the youth wing of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, may unravel Nelson Mandela’s legacy of a nonracial and inclusive society, the leader of the country’s main opposition party said.
Malema, 30, who won a second term as head of the youth wing on June 17, has repeatedly called for the nationalization of the country’s mines, land and banks, which he says are controlled by whites. He has also referred to opposition leaders in comments that many see as racist and appeared in the country’s Equality Court for singing a song dating from the fight against apartheid that calls for the killing of Afrikaans farmers.
“His aim is to obliterate the historical compact we achieved in the mid-1990s,” Helen Zille, the leader of the Democratic Alliance, said in an opinion piece in Johannesburg’s Business Day newspaper today. “Malema’s vocal assault on Mandela’s legacy (with the silent acquiescence of the party’s senior leadership) has changed the ANC’s Brand.”
Mandela, who spent 27 years in jail for plotting against the apartheid government, won a Nobel Peace prize for leading South Africa from the brink of civil war to its first democratic elections in 1994 by advocating reconciliation with the country’s white minority. He served as the nation’s first president and declined to run for a second term in 1999.
Malema “has, single-handedly, positioned the ANC as a racial nationalist party, exclusive, uncompromising, insatiable in its lust for power and impervious to other ideas,” she said.
Malema last week said that demanding that the black majority benefits more from an economy controlled by whites isn’t racist.
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