Picture: GALLO IMAGES/AFP/RAJESH JANTILAL
Picture: GALLO IMAGES/AFP/RAJESH JANTILAL

Populism thrives on a diet of enemies — crude, roughly drawn enemies who can easily be summoned from the unconscious.

The other thing about populism is that it requires attention, constant attention. When the public switches off or starts paying attention to something else, the pressure to summon a crude, roughly drawn enemy grows.

And so it is with Julius Malema, somewhat unkindly referred to as El Douche by his detractors, who summoned a new enemy for public consumption this week.

He had been doing just fine by demonising the Guptas and Jacob Zuma because everyone from the Helen Suzman Foundation to Marxist Workers Tendency, Yeoville Chapter, agreed with him wholeheartedly. Then he decided that it was time to pick on "Indians".

Speaking at his party’s fourth birthday party, Malema made it known that he had examined Indians and found them wanting.

"They are ill-treating our people. They are worse than Afrikaners were. This is not an anti-Indian statement‚ it’s the truth. Indians who own shops don’t pay our people‚ but they give them food parcels."

The problem was the hoary old one of generalisation. It is true that some persons of all races mistreat other persons of all races in SA and this remains one of this country’s tragedies.

But it is equally untrue that an entire race — "Indians" — mistreats another race — called "our people". This is demonstrably untrue and can be proven by showing the many examples of Indians being fair, just and kind employers, as are many others of all races.

The reaction from the Indian community was understandably one of outrage. Jonathen Annipen of the Minority Front youth said: "The Minority Front rejects these racial remarks made by [Malema] and condemns any form of violent action which may result as a consequence of these statements."

Even the fatally ill Schabir Shaik raised himself from his death bed to pronounce, according to News24: "This fool is misinformed and does not have any insight with regard to business ownership in KZN. Why does he not talk about Huletts and other big‚ white capital and business in the province?"

By then, of course, Malema was laughing all the way to the political bank. The headlines had been written and El Douche had summoned the crude, roughly drawn beast from the recesses of the apartheid subconscious.

hartleyr@tisoblackstar.co.za

Please login or register to comment.