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Drinking with Juju

Drinking with Juju

by Keitu Reid / 27.07.2011

Getting an interview with Julius Malema these days is damn near impossible, especially now that he’s gone to ground amongst the latest revelations about where he gets all that swag from. Just ask Floyd Shivambu. So what’s a relevant youth culture magazine like Mahala to do? Make one up… My fantasy talk with Julius goes down at the bar at the Wall Street Cigar Lounge over looking the new CBD. He sips golden single malt whisky while I’m on warm red wine. We watch Sandton rush hour through the windows.

“South Africa’s come a long way,” he says. “But not far enough.”
Before my lack of political sophistication, he shakes his head.
“Keitu! How come you don’t know these things?”
“Jay,” I’d say, “I prefer to live in my head where it’s safer.”
“I know they say I am the devil,” Julius continues, “but it’s my day off today.”
“I may not know about politics but I can see people’s faces. How they’re feeling. I see unhappiness behind that Mzansi smile of yours Juju. People don’t understand why we have a great constitution and developmental policies but the implementation is so poor.”

He remains quiet.

“Julius let me give you some examples. Take BEE. It promised equality and fairness. It was supposed to be a way for all to share in this nation’s wealth. This has not happened. Only a few have benefited. Big corporations just factor BEE non-compliancy fines into their operating budgets. Is this why you’re into nationalisation? Because you saw freedom and equality is empty without anything to show for it?”

“Right,” he nods and flags the waiter for another drink.

“What about Outcome Based Education? OBE was supposed to replace the horrors of Bantu Education with a more cognitive and representitve democratic education. But the quality of education is worsening daily. It has never been so low. Schools are under-resourced and teachers need training and better pay. We have progressive laws and enshrined rights for gays and lesbians but townships aren’t safe for them and the government remains silent and sends Qwelane to Uganda!”

He stares into his glass.

“So when you speak about nationalising the mines, I worry. Has this worked in other countries?”

He smiles.

“My instinct is to support you on redistributing land.” I tell him. “You’re right in saying we have won freedom but the most critical battle is economic power. But how will the policy of redistribution be implemented? Will the process be equitable or will it become another Zimbabwe? How will the State convert national control of mineral wealth into something beneficial for all South Africans? And what about implementation? Will the government be able to run these mines better than the private sector? What good is it to any of us being an ideal country on paper and so poor in practice?”

I calm myself with a good sip of wine.

“You asking me?” He says.

“Yes you.” I say. “You’re a smart guy. You’re the one calling for these policies, but can you walk the talk? Who really needs woodwork anyway? You’re brave man. I admire you. But you must promise these policies will be implemented to improve the lives of all South Africans. Not just you and your circle.”

He turns away after our eyes meet.

“Don’t change things for revenge, or out of anger, or simply to enrich yourself.” I urge. “Change them because it’s the right thing to do. For the good of all. A better life for all. We desperatley need economic equality in our country. Are you the man to do it? If you are, then do it right. When land is redistributed – don’t do it violently or maliciously. Do it right. So many desperate impressionable kids follow your lead. If you don’t do it right we will be another failed African country. If it is to be done, we must do it with a great deal of consideration, humility and responsibility. The land is everything. Can you imagine if you achieve this?”

I see nourished, educated children radiant with happiness and fertile farms with fat juicy fruit. Our people well fed. Effective public transport next. A dream of safe streets.

“I hear you.” Julius says with a wink. His hand on mine.

*Illustration © Alastair Laird.

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RESPONSES (14)
  1. piss says:

    rede an den kleinen mann

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  2. Marx the Spot says:

    I love the sense of foreboding when it comes to how Julius responds to you in this piece… or how you imagine Juju would respond. Non committal, saying nothing really but filling the space with what he’s already said so many times before. I think it’s really very clever writing… well done

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  3. Zandile says:

    Interesting…the questions are on point, they certainly echo some of my daily thoughts. He hears you Keitu…but is it registering?

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  4. Keitu Reid says:

    I dont know Zandi. i hopes he does because if he gets it right it could be a new bigginning for SA and Africa!

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  5. Andy says:

    If Juju could walk the talk he’d be bigger than Biko… alas he is not a walker. That line about enjoying the fruits of capitalism while working tirelessly to bring it down is a case in point. there is a massive chasm between his words and deeds. Seems addicted to the bling bling and the ching ching… while playing for power with the populist line…

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  6. Cinekal Dlamini says:

    Ja, Im worried about the naivety of the thinking here, Keitu, though I appreciate your intentions.

    Land redistribution would only work if Jesus and Mandela dished it out together and did so globally. Even wealthy, privileged, whities wonder if they will be able to acquire land in SA, now that they are in competition with foreign investors?

    “I see nourished, educated children radiant with happiness and fertile farms with fat juicy fruit.”

    Eish! usemapupeni nyani! This takes hard dedicated labour, and any Xhosa (at least) person who wanted that could go work on stunning family lands across the Eastern Cape, but most CHOOSE the squalor of the townships for the promise of cheap drinks, easy sex, and some faint hope of success roulette. Or they choose work/education in the only slightly increased hope of the exact same roulette!

    Land redistribution is a stupid topic as soon as you step on to it. What are people gonna do with the land is a far better topic.

    And by the way, Jesus was a woodworker!!

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  7. hightailing it says:

    Can I edit the above for brevity? – Land redistribution is stupid. Jesus worked with wood. – I don’t even want to entertain what you’re alluding to with that last quip.

    Well written Keitu. Nice to see there are still a few optimists around. Now where are my plane tickets?

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  8. Andy says:

    Cinekal Dlamini… “Jesus was a woodworker” eina! touche! Love your work!

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  9. Ndithomas says:

    “I hear you.” Julius says with a wink. His hand on mine.

    – so, do you two pomp at the end of this story?

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  10. anon says:

    equality is desperately need in our country. but how many times must we be promised that which we need while the people who promise it do it merely because it keeps them in power.

    as to whether juju has empty promises or not, his attitude merely shows that if he does walk the talk, that it would not end well.

    how can we trust someone to take back what is ours, when up till now he has only proven that he takes and keeps it for himself?

    we can no longer wait for some political messiah to save us, for political messiahs are nothing but wolves in sheeps clothing(armani sheep at that)

    we have such a beautiful and resourceful country, why can we not share it equally, without capitalism. we have the technology to ensure a better life for all, yet we seek a better life for all from these wolves. why?

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  11. Christine says:

    How smart of you to safely have him not actually respond to any of the points you raise! Me likes ; )

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  12. Phumlani says:

    I sick of many declarations, you have to move to Demonstrations!!!!!

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  13. Phumlani says:

    I am sick of many declarations, you have to move to nDemonstrations!!!!!

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  14. Phumlani says:

    I am sick of many declarations, you have to move to Demonstrations!!!!!

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