Malema and co. display the worse form of political opportunism by using the tragic death of Sindiso Magaqa to score cheap political points, writes MLUNGISI MTSHALI
In the aftermath of the unfortunate and senseless death of former ANC Youth League (ANCYL) secretary general Cde Sindiso Magaqa, EFF leader Julius Malema has claimed that he had offered him a position in the EFF and Magaqa had agreed and had promised to speak to his family before firming up the offer.
I cannot remember a time when Julius Malema and co have acted with more egregious political opportunism and shameless trafficking in human misery as with this particular incident of the death of Cde Magaqa. Leaping into Maqaqa’s death and the known political battles in KZN is the worst possible distasteful moment, a shameful promotion of a non-existent EFF political doctrine. EFF is, of course, a media creation which can only be sustained by sensationalism, but there are lines not to be crossed.
Looking at the comments of the EFF’s entire top leadership, it’s clear that a memo was circulated in EFF circles over how exploiting Magaqa’s death and the complex political environment in KwaZulu-Natal in the most simplistic way would “excite” the EFF base and would be “a great political goal.”
Malema’s statements on Magaqa’s political loyalty are inflammatory and misleading and undermine rather than strengthen the fight to end political killings. Unfortunately, such cheap talk has become all too common in the children’s organisation Malema leads.
If Julius Malema had been so convinced that his former Secretary General would have taken up his offer then EFF would have moved a lot closer when Magaqa was shot than now in his passing. Better yet, after Magaqa had been shot, at least a word in his defense in trying to protect their future national organiser would certainly have been heard. There was nothing.
Unlike Julius and Floyd and others, Magaqa was extremely humble and that trait will remain his lasting legacy. He was easily a Walter Sisulu of his generation, a young man very clear about his strengths but not viewing such strengths as an entitlement to senior positions in the ANC. A senior position in the ANCYL does not translate to a senior position in the mother body and ANCYL is not a training ground for seniority in the mother body. Magaqa understood this, was never really bothered by going back to work his way up in the organisation. The only thing that bothered Magaqa was unprincipled and corrupt leaders, who manipulated the organisation for their own ends, whatever level that manipulation would be taking place.
EFF’s demagogues, led by the ever so childish Malema – who is still clearly battling with bitterness against ANC for cutting his political career in the organisation at its peak – took the easy, cynical way out. Malema and co have rushed through a string of free for fall accusations and speculation as to who killed Magaqa, who invited Malema to his funeral, why he might come or not come, clearly making everything about him, with the Magaqa family’s grief a little sideshow in a bigger political circus for television and political point scoring.
Even more shocking is that Malema would not have dared shared these allegations about Magaqa’s loyalty when he was alive. Why in death? Despite the shrill howls of outrage that have been inciting Malema and his EFF over many issues, on this occasion, their behavior is hugely inappropriate. In death, family comes first because this is their loss, a son upon whom they had great hopes for the future.
It seems obvious that such a delicate life-and-death issue should not be fodder for political jocks hunting for ratings, embattled politicians looking for wedge issues. Instead, it is family members who must come first and whose precious memory must be protected, and everyone else must carefully send his/her well wishes but not be so insensitive to embroil himself in complex political issues that can live to be discussed another day
More sober politics would dictate that the police department with its energetic and decisive Minister and Deputy Minister, including our courts are perfectly capable of dealing with all matters relating to the unfortunate death of Magaqa and that of other Councillors. There is absolutely no rationality in inventing truths if one feels a fundamental right has been abrogated.
In the end, it is not about who is able to cook sensation in the depressing and ugly killings of Councillors in KZN. People who have dealt with the death of a beloved relative in a hospital are all too familiar with the pain when facing myriad decisions that can tear a family apart. The Magaqa family needs all our support and not silly politics. His death cannot really be about keeping politicians on television and radio shows.
It cannot be that as politicians we must dread that our most personal and painful private matters might be turned into political footballs by those cravenly seeking approval from certain voting blocs when we pass on.
Sindiso Magaqa’s death is a tragedy, no matter how you look at it. And when struck by tragedy, people look for someone to blame. But there’s a difference between searching for meaning and political opportunism. For Malema and cabal to blithely, and wrongly, suggest that the ANC is responsible for Magaqa’s death is both foolish and misunderstands the moment we are in. There could be a myriad of reasons for Magaqa’s shooting including any individual inside or outside the ANC who could be responsible for the shooting and at this stage, all speculation is premature.
The tactic of simply maligning political opponents using whatever tool at your disposal, including a life or death situation, has no place in the new country we are building. Nevertheless, it seems to have become the dominant strategy of EFF politics.
Time to grow up.
Mtshali is a social activist and political commentator