23 February 2014

South Africa: Planet Malema


If you stood in the middle of the Mehlareng Stadium in Tembisa on Saturday and closed your eyes, you could have sworn you were at an ANC rally.

There's a certain vibe at ANC events - the energy of the crowd, the crescendo of voices in chants and song, a pulse that other competing political organisations battle to recreate.

But this was enemy territory for the ANC, a red sea of rebellion, the vortex from which the desperate quest for economic freedom throbbed.

Julius Malema reigned over the launch of the Economic Freedom Fighters' manifesto like the new messiah, oozing leftist and populist rhetoric which was both terrifying and strategic genius.

They began arriving early on Saturday morning and by 3pm they were still there, enduring the blazing sun and occasionally a fine spray of drizzle. Some sat on the cement stands around the township stadium, most were hemmed in on the packed pitch, unable to move for hours.

People passed out in the heat, children slept on the grass soaked in sweat, old people grimaced from the heat and exhaustion but kept singing and dancing along with the younger ...

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