Malema's One-Wife Slogan Backfires

ANC leaders felt the remarks were directed at President Jacob Zuma.

Independent Newspapers can reveal that Malema and the league’s national working committee were summoned to an urgent meeting last week by ANC officials.

According to sources, the meeting took place in Cape Town on Wednesday and included Zuma, secretary general Gwede Mantashe, national chairwoman Baleka Mbete and treasurer Mathews Phosa.

Absent from the meeting was Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who was on an official visit to Britain, and deputy secretary-general Thandi Modise, who sent an apology.

At the meeting, Malema was reportedly told that he had overstepped the line but the youth leader blamed the SABC, saying the public broadcaster had aired his comments without context – a charge the SABC has denied.

The league suggested that the party bosses view the entire footage of Malema’s speech to understand the context.

It is understood that the ANC top brass will now do just that and source the entire footage of Malema’s controversial address at the league’s 66th anniversary celebrations in Heilbron, Free State last Sunday.

League spokesman Floyd Shivambu said the he knew nothing about the meeting. “That’s news to me,” he said.

Mantashe also denied knowledge of the meeting. While the league has sought to downplay the implications of Malema’s comments in Heilbron, Independent Newspapers has seen the footage of Malema’s speech and can reveal that Malema’s attack on Zuma was, if anything, more blunt than was reported.

In his speech, Malema told the Free State rally that leaders should use condoms when having sex in order to curb the spread of HIV/Aids.

“At all times leaders must be responsible. Leaders must use protection in order to avoid the spread of HIV and Aids? as a leader you must lead by example. You must have one wife or one husband. If you are still young, you must have one boyfriend and you must have one girlfriend. It is not fashionable to sleep around. You will die,” said Malema.

Malema then went on to say that some “individuals” would not live to be a 100 years old because of how they “conduct themselves”.

Zuma has three wives and is also engaged to Bongi Ngema. He also recently fathered a child outside of his marriages, with Sonono Khoza, the daughter of powerful soccer boss Irvin Khoza.

In 2005, during his rape trial, Zuma apologised to the nation for having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman.

The ANC has not taken a decision on whether to charge Malema in connection with his remarks.

This was confirmed by ANC national disciplinary committee head Derek Hanekom, who said no case had been brought before his committee.

The committee, he said, was not responsible for formulating charges, but would usually be informed if any such charges were being formulated.

“We have not been informed of such a process,” he said.

Insiders say that if Malema is charged, this would only happen after this week’s crucial national general council (NGC) in Durban, so as to avoid chaos.

Malema meanwhile embarked on a damage-control PR offensive last week which included the league issuing a statement on Sunday night denying that Malema had been referring to Zuma and Malema appearing on a talk show on Metro FM on Tuesday.

On Friday, Malema, accompanied by his ally, Deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, visited Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini at his residence in Nongoma, northern KwaZulu-Natal to discuss “misperceptions” about Malema’s views on polygamy.

The King has six wives – the youngest being 23.

Malema already has a two-year suspended sentence for “sowing divisions” and causing “disunity” in the ANC. If he is charged again he could be thrown out of the party.

Earlier this year, Malema was charged with provoking “serious divisions” and a “breakdown of the unity of the organisation”.

This related to him insulting Zuma and openly backing Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF. He also faced censure for defying the ANC’s directive for members not to comment on the death of AWB leader Eugene Terre’Blanche and his verbal attack on a BBC journalist.

As part of a plea-bargain Malema was fined R10 000 and received a suspended sentence of two-years – during which period, his ANC membership would be “summarily suspended” if found guilty of the same offence. He also was told to undergo an anger-management course and to attend a party political school.

The youth league’s NGC – at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, last month – took a resolution to call for the “nullification” of Malema’s sentence. The league’s delegation will seek to convince the Durban gathering to support its call.

Malema has openly accused the ANC leadership of double standards – for punishing him but taking no action against members taking the party to court.

In recent weeks Malema has tacitly accused Zuma, who went on a state visit to Britain in March, of kow-towing to Queen Elizabeth by reassuring investors that nationalisation was not ANC policy.

Last month Malema also took a swipe at Zuma, suggesting that the president’s family was amassing wealth for themselves while the poor majority continued to live in poverty.