ANC Youth League president Julius Malema fields questions at a press conference at Luthuli House yesterday about a R16-million mansion he is allegedly building in Sandton.
ANC Youth League president Julius Malema's bid to deflect scrutiny from his pricey possessions has been shadowed by denials and refusals to disclose his income as well as contradictions from his past public utterances.
The youth leader - who continues to hog headlines for his calls to nationalise the mines and expropriate land without compensation - denied that he demolished his R3.6-million Sandton, Johannesburg, home to make way for the construction of a R16-million mansion.
In a heated press conference at Luthuli House, Johannesburg, Malema said his personal affairs, salary and business interests were "none of anybody's business" because he was not a public representative.
He also claimed to be the only leader in the ANC who was understood by the poor.
"A house costing R16-million to construct only exists in the imaginations of rightwing, narrow-minded and obsessed white people, who always think Africans cannot and should not build houses of their own," he said.
He later said he was referring to opposition parties Freedom Front Plus and the DA, which this week approached Sars to ask it to investigate the youth leader's lifestyle, and look into how he could afford a multimillion-rand home and luxury cars such as his Mercedes Benz C63, and if he were paying tax.
He said the FF+was worse than the DA - a contradicting a statement he made in 2009 when he said: "The FF+ may have their own weaknesses, but they are not that naive compared to the DA and other white political parties."
In what could be seen as an attack on the ANC leadership and President Jacob Zuma in particular, Malema declared himself as the most important ANC leader.
"I'm the only remaining leading political figure in South Africa who gets welcomed in the squatter camps. During the elections, there was a squatter camp called Stjwetla, where they refused ANC people to campaign, where they said you can't come here. But when they heard that Julius [was] coming, they said today you can enter, no problem, you are with Malema. He is going to listen to us," said Malema.
The firebrand youth leader, who was recently re-elected to his position, once said lifestyle audits were "very wrong" if used to target individuals alleged to be corrupt.
But yesterday, he said he would welcome the calls for investigations of his lifestyle.
"Where I get money to build such a mansion, within a short space of time, is none of your business.
"There is nothing that I hide. I pay my taxes, and I will continue to do that. If there is anything Sars want from me, they have got my contact [details].
"If there was anything that we are doing wrong, Sars would have acted immediately, without waiting for any political instruction," he said.
Malema also said he would not dismiss the fact that his personal finances were being investigated.
"I have been investigated throughout my life. There has never been a quiet moment in my life.
"Police, intelligence, Sars, Public Protector, throughout.
"Those who cannot defeat me in political arguments have resorted to multi-tricks, and they have never succeeded."
Malema further contradicted his previous statements when he was asked how much he earned and how he could sustain his lifestyle.
"I'm not going to do that. I can show you an appointment letter I got from the ANC, which says under no circumstances will you disclose your salary to a third party. It is not me, it is in the appointment letter of the ANC."
But in an interview with e.tv news channel last year, Malema said the ANC paid him about R20000 a month, and that his car and house were financed by Absa.
Yesterday, he revealed he owned a cattle farm in Polokwane and a small company, both of which he said were his private affairs.
But last year, Malema told the Sowetan: "I wish I had 50 companies. There is nothing wrong with that. And I wish all of them were making money and with that money I would help the poor because that's who I am. Every cent I have I share with the poor people."
Malema, whose has backed calls for nationalisation with arguments that the wealth of the country is owned by white capitalists who hindered the economic freedom of the poor, side-stepped suggestions that he was also a benefactor of the self-same capitalism.
"One of the things I have learned in my short life in politics is the ability to live in the conditions of capitalism while fighting it and defeating it. I don't exploit people," he said.
According to him, he was accountable only to card-carrying members of the ANC Youth League.
When it was put to him, however, that leading a constituency of radical youth made him a public representative, Malema shot down the suggestion.
"I am not a public servant; I am not a public representative.
"The reason I refuse to go to parliament is because of some of these reasons, that you are going to be questioned about everything else, including when you go to the loo. You must be asked, how many minutes have you spent in the loo?"