[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.
The story published in The Star yesterday about Julius Malema’s alleged lavish lifestyle has truly set the cat amongst the pigeons. The reason is that it goes to the heart of the titanic struggle within the ANC for access to state power and the legal and illegal tenders and benefits that flow from holding such power.
The Star alleged on Friday that Malema owns a R3,6m house in Sandown and a R1m mansion in Polokwane, both of which he paid cash. According to the report, Malema also owns a black Mercedes-Benz AMG, which retails at R734 000, and reportedlydrives an Aston Martin and a red Range Rover Sport. On Thursday night Malema went to a lecture at Wits University in a brand-new white Range Rover – with no number plates – which sells for R1,2m. Malema is reported to earn a net salary of R20 000 per month.
The Times, using the Standard Bank’s bond calculator, estimates that Maelma’s bond repayments would amount to R32,953.87 per month. His car repayment on a R734 000 Merc, according to Wesbank’s Vehicle Repayment Calculator, with a ten percent deposit, would come to R16,307.78 a month for 4.5 years.
The response to the article has been telling, to say the least. Malema hit back by saying:”Those who are calling for lifestyle audits, let them be the first ones to be audited… I know of a national leader of a union who stays in a R6-million house.” These words echo the extraordinary statement made by Jacob Zuma outside court after one if his appearances that if he was prosecuted others in the ANC would also go down. In effect, Juju is implying that if he is pursued others will also be exposed for corruption.
On a close reading the statement of the ANC and the ANC Youth League, “denying” the allegations against Malema amounts to no denial at. It is far too vague to amount to a denial and looks suspiciously like an admission of guilt. The statement reads in part:
The first untrue fabrication (sic) in the report is that Cde Julius has bought houses for cash. Cde Julius Malema has not at any stage bought any house for cash. Like every body else, he has purchased whatever houses or property registered in his name through banks. The second untrue fabrication (sic) is an impression created through the report that Cde Julius owns four expensive cars. We like to state on record that Cde Julius has one car in his name. The third untruth is the reported twenty thousand rands monthly salary that Cde Julius earns from the ANC. This is again very far from the truth.
So, Malema purchased his house through banks? Does this mean he took out a bond on the house or merely that the (cash) payment was arranged through a bank? The fact that the statement vaguely speaks about the purchase of a house through banks suggests there is no bond. In any event, if he took out a bond, how is he able to service the repayments on his house and his car on an ordinary salary?
Second, the Star never said Malema owned four cars, merely that he drove four cars, a claim not disputed by the ANC and its Youth League. The question is really how can Malema afford such an expensive car and who owns the three other cars he drives around in? On what basis does Malema have access to these cars? Are the cars registered in the name of one of his businesses or are they owned by someone else. If the latter, why are others allowing Malema to drive around in their cars? What are they getting for their generosity? And why is he driving around in a car without number plates? The last time a checked that was illegal?
The third question is, if Malema does not earn R20 000 a month as Youth League President, how much does he earn? Does he earn so much that he could afford bond and car repayments of almost R50 000 a month? If the answer is yes, how come the ANC is paying him such a huge salary? If not, where is the money coming from.
Like President Zuma’s infidelities and the alleged infidelities of Lennit Max, this is surely a public issue. Malema has enormous influence in the ANC and if he is living beyond his means and is being bankrolled by others, the question will arise as to why others are paying him? What are they getting in return for their money? Tenders, perhaps? Or are they paying Malema so that he can punt the nationalization of the mines which would allow those who own unprofitable mines to save their investments through a government handout?
So many questions, so few answers.
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