In Response to Bizarre Claims by Mr Julius Malema About the IFP and Its Founder

Jun 14, 2024 | Press Releases

“Lazy thinkers with the brain of a chicken.” That was how the EFF’s Commander-in-Chief, Mr Julius Malema, described South Africans last night while addressing the media in a press conference.

It was not in his written statement, of course. Journalists know by now to wait out his monotone reading of the written statement; because the crazy will inevitably come out afterwards, during question time. That is when Mr Malema makes his most bizarre comments, egged on by cleverly crafted questions from the media. And for journalists, it was worth the wait, because last night’s press conference was a treasure trove of the bizarre.

His “chicken brain” description was aimed at those who remember how the EFF flipflopped on a position in 2016. He vehemently waved that away by claiming we have a collective faulty memory.

But, as the late Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi used to remind us, you can fool some of the people some of time, but not all of the people all of the time. We remember well the many occasions that Mr Malema completely changed his tune, saying one thing today and the opposite tomorrow.

Everything he says is intended to score political points. Truth does not matter. Facts do not matter. The historical record is irrelevant. If it suits his narrative for the sky to be green, he will tell us we’re all wrong, because the sky is quite obviously green.

How well we remember Mr Malema saying, “My blood is black, green and gold. I will never form a political party. I am born African National Congress. I will die African National Congress.” We all know what happened next.

He will go down in history as the epitome of a flip flopper. We remember how, in 2017, he vowed to remove Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe, calling him a “rotten potato”. Three years later, he wanted Hlophe to become the Chief Justice, calling him the most “highly qualified” candidate with the “best legal brain”.

How well, too, we remember Mr Malema saying, “The ANC Youth League is a factory that has produced the best leaders, but Buthelezi was a factory fault. He was assigned by the movement to start a cultural group that would mobilise our people… the IFP was a cultural group that was formed for cultural reasons…” Because of this, he said, the IFP “is going to die a natural death”.

When he formed the EFF shortly thereafter, Mr Malema hurried to KwaZulu-Natal to apologise to the IFP’s Founder, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, knowing well that the EFF didn’t stand a chance to making in-roads in KwaZulu-Natal unless he showed some respect for uMntwana waKwaPhindangene, the long-serving traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation and the respected elder statesman who had served in the first Government of National Unity.

Fast forward 10 years later, and Mr Malema has again changed his story to suit his political agenda. Now, according to him, the IFP was not founded by Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi on instruction of the ANC’s mission-in-exile and the leaders of the Frontline States, conveyed to Prince Buthelezi through Zambia’s President Kenneth Kaunda in 1974. Actually, he says, it was formed by the Oppenheimers.

Quite how this is meant to work, he did not make clear. Were the Oppenheimers somehow controlling President Kaunda and the leaders of the Frontline States during the liberation struggle? Were they pulling the strings in the ANC’s mission-in-exile, using Mr Oliver Tambo as a puppet?

Mr Malema can bully South Africans as much as he likes, calling us chicken brains and lazy thinkers and anything else that pops into his wild imagination. But we are not stupid. We know the history of our country. We know how and why the IFP was formed, and we know its legacy of serving South Africa.

The question we should be asking is why he has come with this new narrative on the IFP.  The answer is simple.

Far from “dying a natural death”, the IFP has been a key protagonist in the political landscape for almost 50 years. And, in 2024, the IFP is the only political party that registered growth in the National and Provincial Elections. While the fortunes of many were decimated, the IFP increased its share of the vote, securing enough seats to become a strong voice in the governance of our country.

The IFP has always been, and is still, a massive obstacle to Mr Malema’s political ambitions. Because the IFP has agreed to participate in a Government of National Unity, to begin rebuilding South Africa, he must somehow find a way to tarnish us with his chosen brush of “white monopoly capital”.

For someone who always claims to speak for the poor and the struggling, it is difficult to forget Mr Malema’s memorable interview in which he revealed: “I wouldn’t know how much is the price of a loaf of bread. I’m in a position where I don’t have to go and buy a loaf of bread.”

As a multi-millionaire, how has Mr Malema used his money to help South Africa’s struggling youth? Is a single student helped by his wearing a R2 million wristwatch?

Forty-six years ago, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi secured R5 million from Mr Harry Oppenheimer through the Anglo American and de Beers Chairman’s Fund, and he used it to build the Mangosuthu University of Technology, opening the door to vocational training for black South Africans.

Since its founding in 1979, having started with just 15 students, MUT has produced more than 50 000 graduates from across South Africa and the SADC community. This is a credit to the IFP and its Founder. The R5 million Oppenheimer donation did not disappear in the hands of the IFP. It built MUT.

Can Mr Malema give a similar account for the millions looted from VBS Mutual Bank? What was done with that money, while impoverished communities lost their savings and insurance payouts?

Based on their shared philanthropy, a lifelong friendship developed between Prince Buthelezi and Mr Oppenheimer, which continued down the generations. That is why Mr Nicky and Mr Jonathan Oppenheimer attended Prince Buthelezi’s funeral. One has to wonder why Mr Malema attended, if he believes Prince Buthelezi and the IFP to be projects of “white monopoly capital”.

Again, it was for political expedience.

There is nothing remiss in political parties receiving funding for election campaigns. It happens in every campaign, with every party, throughout the world. The IFP has been transparent about the donations we received towards this campaign, and all others, because all donations are above board and come with no strings attached. They are made on the basis of the IFP’s known principles, policies and integrity.

Our election campaign was strategically waged, throughout South Africa, and we reaped the reward with increased electoral support. It is frankly embarrassing for Mr Malema to criticise our campaign now, when the electoral result speaks so loudly of the IFP’s success.

The writing is on the wall. While the EFF dropped from 8 to 2 seats in KwaZulu-Natal, the IFP increased by 2 seats and has taken the premiership. Mr Malema deceives himself at his own peril. Soon the EFF will not be in any sphere of governance. He will find it is cold outside, because his rhetoric is not implemented anywhere.

The IFP has stayed consistent for almost half a century. South Africans know us, and trust us, because we act on principle and stay true to our word. We will maintain that identity going forward. As we did in the first Government of National Unity, the IFP will remain the IFP in the Government of National Unity of 2024. We bring to the table a vital component that has been lacking in governance: servant leadership.

What will become of the EFF remains to be seen. Already Mr Malema has changed his Party’s spots, declaring that the red berets will no longer be the rabble-rousers disrupting Parliament. What will their new identity be? Only time will tell. The only certainty, as we have seen again and again, is contradiction, expediency and baseless claims.

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