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I believe that every revolution starts with a single thought. A thought turned into an idea manifests into a belief that the masses are willing to die for. Like it or not, Mr Julius Sello Malema has deliberately planted a single but yet big thought in our minds that many black people in South Africa are now beginning to ask themselves: “Did Tata actually sell us out or not?”

Whoever is behind Mr Malema, is very strategic. That individual has mastered the tactics of the ANC and the art of hitting it hard where it hurts. Clearly it cannot be Malema. There’s obviously someone at a very tactical level influencing the things that Malema says in public. We must admit that Malema recently sounds like a well trained CIA agent with a clear mission.

In all honesty, there’s nothing new and special that Malema said about Mandela. Truth is, people speak about it all the time in their private spaces and they debate about it to pass time over a chill session with friends. Malema was just the first, prominent public figure to boldly say it without fear or favour. We choose to laugh the subject off by saying “you know that Mandela is a no-go-zone. The man was a saint.”

For years, the ANC has been using the iconic image of Madiba to win hearts of millions of South Africans in efforts to hit home runs at every election. The famous statement “Do it for Madiba” in their campaigns has been their signature note to convince the masses to put an X next to their leaders at every election.

This of course has been carefully mastered and showcased by their media strategy of glorifying the late struggle hero which tends to put him as the only Super Man who “saved us from 300+ years of oppression.” And they will always remind us that he was ANC. All the documentaries and films televised prior to every election captures our emotions and draws our hearts to the “liberation movement” that “our parents used to fight for the freedom we now enjoy.”

Working in the youth and community development space, I have listened to many black South Africans who tend to feel that the Madiba brand has been abused. Speaking to some young people, they feel that “Mandela has been glorified as some sort of a deity, snatching away God’s title and role in society.”

Every revolution has a leader. That leader is usually considered a hero and later exalted as a deity. History has taught us that we [human beings] have done it with Jesus Christ, Prophet Mohammed and other leaders. Mandela was not a special case, we also magnified him.

In his recent media briefing, Malema emphasized a strong point that he does not belong to “a Mandela religion.” This is through his observation that the world has created a religion out of Mandela. It now worships and bows down at the very mention of his name. As a result, we created fear in ourselves to even carefully study and criticise Mandela’s political leadership.

Malema’s counter-strategy of hitting hard at the Madiba Legacy and questioning the very thing that most people believe Madiba robbed us from, was not only brave but very strategic. Malema posed a very big question which most of us have been asking ourselves “What really happened to the Mandela who stood up for nationalisation even after coming of out of prison?”

As we are approaching the 2016 municipal elections, the ANC will still apply the “Do it for Madiba” strategy to many of us who are “politically bankrupt” and the millions of poverty stricken people in South Africa. It is a no-brainer that free t-shirts and food parcels will still be the order of the day, after all, poverty has increased. Nothing is new under the political sun.

What the ANC is failing to understand is that the voter is becoming more educated and mature in putting an X next to any face. This is a biggest threat to the ruling party that has, for years been blessed with millions of “emotional voters” who have secured them majority of seats in parliament. Will that change in the future? Only time will tell.

We might be debating whether Malema was correct or not to say that Mandela compromised his principles and sold out the revolution, but what matters now is that Agent Malema has accomplished stage one of his mission to root out emotional voters in South Africa.

Thabang Phala

Thabang Phala is an award-winning development practitioner, business consultant, brand strategist, facilitator and thought leader with industry experience spanning over 11 years.

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