Julius Malema, the firebrand leader of the Economic Freedom
Fighters (EFF), is arguably South Africa’s greatest political provocateur.
Mention the name “Malema” and it almost
immediately elicits fury and apprehension from political parties and concerned
Long before Malema traded his green and black African
National Congress (ANC) fatigues for a Red Beret, he was singing the tune of
Malema’s childhood in brief
On 3 March 1981, Julius Sello Malema was born in Seshego,
Limpopo, to a single mother who worked as a domestic worker to make ends meet.
Malema grew up poor, and cites the socioeconomic strife endured by his mother
as an overarching reason for his interest in politics. He lost his mother at a
young age and his grandmother raised him.
Malema attended Mohlakaneng High School in Seshego and went
on to complete a two-year diploma in youth development through the University
of South Africa (UNISA) in 2010. The following year, he re-enrolled at UNISA,
this time undertaking a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and African
Malema’s foray into politics – he started young
Malema’s political career began at the tender age of nine. He joined the African National Congress’ Masupatsela (Trailblazers) movement at a time when the country’s political landscape was experiencing a tumultuous genesis.
According to Malema, he was tasked with removing National Party (NP) posters placed outside police stations, in the runup to South Africa’s first democratic elections.
Malema’s radical populist political ideology catapulted him
to a seat of power in April 2008, when he was elected as president of the
ANCYL. The election process was criticised for reports of voter intimidation.
No stranger to criticism, perhaps more so than any of the other “big three” leaders, these are some of the most prominent controversies that have surrounded Malema.
- Malema’s endorsement of Robert Mugabe during his visit to Zimbabwe, at a time when President Zuma was trying to broker a negotiated settlement in the country.
- A controversial incident between Malema and a BBC journalist, Jonah Fisher, whereby the ANCYL leader lambasted the reporter during a question and answer session. This incident led Zuma to publicly condemn Malema – a watershed moment.
- Malema’s comments on the murder of Eugène Terre’Blanche in 2010 which relate to the infamous “Shoot the Boer” (Dubul’ ibhunu) song.
- Malema’s unfavourable comparison of Zuma to his predecessor Thabo Mbeki, after Zuma called a press conference reprimanding Malema.
Interesting facts about Julius Malema
- Julius Malema married his long-time girlfriend and had a son Munzhedzi in 2016. Their second son Kopano was born in 2018. Malema also has a son named Ratanang from a previous relationship with Maropeng Ramohlale.
- Malema’s incredible weight-loss transformation has been well publicised. The EFF leader has attributed his physical transformation to a life of sobriety, healthy eating and exercise.
- In December 2013, Malema was arrested for speeding 215 km/h in a 120 km/h zone in his BMW in Gauteng.
- Malema obtained his BA Degree in Political Leadership and Citizenship from UNISA on 30 March 2016.