South Africa: Malema Slammed for 'Reckless' Attack On Gordhan

Julius Malema (file photo)
22 November 2018

Various organisations have come out in support of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan following a spate of attacks on him by the EFF's leadership.

EFF leader Julius Malema on Tuesday launched a scathing attack on Gordhan outside the venue where the minister was testifying before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture.

Malema called Gordhan "corrupt" and "a dog of white monopoly capital". He also claimed Gordhan hated black people.

The EFF also made startling claims over contracts involving Gordhan's eldest daughter, Anisha, saying they were allegedly awarded by National Treasury and other government departments, seemingly as a result of her father's position in government.

On Thursday, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation condemned Malema's attack on Gordhan.

'Reckless'

The foundation's executive director, Neeshan Balton, said that Malema's statements were "inflammatory and reckless". He added that the racialised nature of the attack was "deeply worrying".

"We should be questioning why the EFF chooses to cast aspersions on Gordhan's integrity on public platforms using language that is highly inflammatory. What is the 'loss of life' that Malema is claiming may occur in his 'fight' with Gordhan? Whose life may be lost, how and why? If Malema indeed has information that points to the possibility of 'casualties' in this purported 'fight', should he not be taking the matter to the relevant authorities to avert such a scenario?" Balton asked.

"The accusation that Gordhan 'hates black people' and stifles black excellence is not only false, but in context of Malema's inflammatory speech, and the party's repeated anti-Indian statements in the past, is a cause for deep concern.

"When radio DJ Sasha Martinengo used the term 'monkey' in an attempt to dehumanise Malema, we took great offense and condemned it. In this instance, while it may not be the term 'monkey' that is being used against Gordhan, the term 'dog' similarly seeks to dehumanise. History has shown us just how dangerous dehumanisation can be - take for instance the Rwandan genocide in which Tutsis were regarded as nothing more than 'cockroaches'. So calling someone a dog, in the context of 'warring' with them, can have very serious consequences."

Balton further criticised the EFF for continuing to try and implicate Gordhan in the Gupta family's ploys in the state capture project.

'Bring evidence'

"Gordhan has been the very antithesis of state capture. If the Guptas had come to symbolise the capture of the state, then Gordhan was among those who represented state integrity. Despite the immense political pressure he came under, he was among a dedicated group of public representatives who repeatedly shielded our state coffers from those intent on looting [them].

"As Gordhan himself has requested, if the EFF claims to have information against the minister that indicates otherwise, then the party should be prepared to come before the commission, present whatever evidence it may have and subject itself to cross-examination.

"Until then, we should be questioning why the party continues running a smear campaign against someone who stood firmly against state capture when many others backed down."

Balton said it should be asked what motives the EFF had for casting doubt on the integrity of the commission itself.

"There are additional questions which need to be answered by the EFF. Are they trying to intimidate future witnesses at the Zondo commission? Why are they so keen that society is not fully informed about the scale of state capture, and the key architects? Are they themselves going to testify about their knowledge of state capture - such as the Transnet purchase of locomotives, which they revealed at a press conference last year? Or are they merely going to limit themselves to being critics of corruption - rather than being active and responsible players in exposing it?"

The South African Council of Churches (SACC) said it found Malema's utterances "regrettable" and "unfortunate".

'Inciting violence'

"We find it unacceptable that an elected public official can call a person, whether government minister or not, a dog; especially given the connotation of such an expression in African culture, general secretary of the SACC Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana said in a statement.

"Moreover, such name-calling by a popular political leader could easily incite followers to violent acts. It engenders an attitude in society that says other people do not matter. That is not ubuntu. This kind of talk, accompanied by sabre-rattling and talk of war and possible bloodshed, on the eve of electioneering, is deeply concerning."

The SACC also took issue with Malema's trashing of the Zondo commission of inquiry as a "Mickey Mouse show".

"This is a commission that was the recommendation of the Public Protector in the 2016 ground-breaking State of Capture report; and the whole country welcomed it and eagerly awaited its creation.

"We do not understand how it now becomes a Mickey Mouse show and a waste of money.

"We urge all South Africans to support the Zondo commission and not have witnesses attacked and intimidated, as that will have the effect of burying the serious wrongdoings that might have been revealed in order to have recommendations for solutions that help cleanse our governmental environment."

The SACC said it could not believe that the EFF - which had been "standing steadfastly against corruption" - no longer wanted to see corrupt practices exposed in a judicial inquiry such as the Zondo commission.

"We believe that it is in the interests of the country and all citizens that all is exposed in order to begin the healing of our state institutions; and the ubuntu ethos and values cultivated."

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