A senior government official and a law enforcement official who have been briefed on the case told the Mail & Guardian the elite police unit is “ready to charge” Malema; and that warrants have been issued for the controversial former ANC Youth League leader’s arrest.
“It will happen before long – at least in the coming weeks,” one of the sources, who requested anonymity, told the M&G.
The sources said Malema would be arrested on allegations of fraud and corruption connected to the issuing of tenders in Limpopo, and possibly for outstanding tax liabilities with the South African Revenue Service (Sars), which has taken a keen interest in his rapid accumulation of assets.
The fraud and tax evasion allegations are also understood to be directly linked to On-Point engineering – part owned by Malema’s Ratanang family trust – which held a contract to administer part of a multibillion-rand Limpopo roads budget. On-Point allegedly owes up to R15-million in unpaid taxes to Sars.
Though allegations of tender fraud date back to 2010, an arrest now would likely spark claims of political or executive interference. But analysts say that would have been the case regardless of the timing.
“When it happens is not important. Either way questions will be asked of the ANC’s role in the matter – especially President Jacob Zuma,” said Aubrey Matshiqi, political analyst at the Helen Suzman Foundation.
“He [Zuma] will immediately be accused of the exact same thing Thabo Mbeki was accused of – using state organs to settle political scores.”
“Marikana was taken over and hijacked. Out of it came counter-revolutionaries to undermine our movement,” ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told a Young Communist League public lecture in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni last week.
He strongly criticised those he said were using the strike to further their own political careers.
“It is always dangerous to ride on the corpses of our people.”
Mantashe’s comments were followed up by a stern warning from tripartite alliance member, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, which warned it would “deal with” Malema.
“For the first time Cosatu is issuing a direct warning to Malema to stop using the Lonmin mine tragedy for his personal agenda,” Sipho Dlamini, the labour federation’s president told the same gathering.
In a further dismissal of Malema’s engagement with the Marikana miners, head of the ANC economic transformation unit Enoch Godongwana told a meeting with overseas investors, organised by Merril Lynch, the young firebrand’s political career was over.
“Outside the ANC he is finished. The ANC towers over the individual. The ANC has had its fair share of mavericks over the year and Malema is no different,” Godongwana was quoted as saying in the Sowetan.
Malema, whose expulsion from the ANC was ratified by the party’s disciplinary appeals committee, addressed Marikana residents shortly after the gunning down of 34 workers by police at Lonmin platinum mine in mid-August.
He laid the blame for the tragedy squarely at the government’s door, and used the occasion to call for Zuma’s resignation.
Along with seven survivors of the shooting, he proceeded to lay charges of murder against the South African Police Service and government.
Malema also transformed a memorial held for the dead miners into a political rally, decrying government’s role in the tragedy and calling on South Africans to rise up against the state.
“The democratic government has turned on its people,” Malema told the memorial.
Malema also visited Grootvlei gold mine on the East Rand last week, where he addressed mine workers who haven’t been paid in nearly two years, since the mine was taken over by Aurora Empowerment Systems – a company partly owned by Zuma’s nephew Khulubuse Zuma and Nelson Mandela’s grandson Zondwa Mandela.
“Our leaders have lost their way and have been co-opted by mine owners and fed profits. They don’t care about you,” Malema told workers. His chants of “Phansi, Zuma, Phansi [down with Zuma]” were met with enthusiastic replies from the workers, who relayed to him their anger with government and the ruling ANC.
While Malema still hopes to be readmitted to the ruling party at its elective conference in Mangaung, the anger he has stoked among ANC leaders in the wake of the Marikana tragedy may have undermined his campaign. And should he be arrested and charged, his return to the fold will likely be made more difficult yet.
Malema ally, suspended ANC Youth League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu, reacted with shock when quizzed by the M&G on the supposed arrest, but vowed they would continue on their quest to bring economic liberation to all South Africans.
“I don’t know anything about that, but it’s intimidation – we won’t be deterred,” Shivambu said.