The intractable leader of the Economic Freedom Fighter says his prosecution in court has deepened his political career.
According to CIC, his trials are a mobilisation platform and claims Ramaphosa’s presidency has resulted in ‘the arrogance of white people coming back’
“A blessing in disguise” and a “positive addition to my political itinerary”.
This is how EFF leader Julius Malema has described the concerted effort by lobby group AfriForum to have him prosecuted by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
Last month, the NPA charged Malema for allegedly discharging a firearm during the EFF’s fifth anniversary celebrations in July 2018.
This follows the NPA’s decision to prosecute him, together with the party’s national spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, for allegedly assaulting a police officer in April 2018 during the funeral proceedings of late struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
An unrepentant Malema spoke to City Press last week on the eve of the red berets’ second National People’s Assembly – the party’s elective conference, which is set to take place from December 13 to 16 at Nasrec.
He said the numerous court appearances he had to contend with as a result of the NPA’s charges were “a positive addition” to his political programme.
The EFF leader said these charges had worked in his favour by mobilising his supporters.
“It has worked out as a political programme that has enhanced my political career. They (the NPA and AfriForum) basically mobilise people for me and the EFF because every time we appear, we get an opportunity to talk to our people and mobilise them. When they throw lemons at you, make lemonade,” said a nonchalant Malema.
He dismissed the charges as “bogus and without merit”, alleging that they were politically motivated to discredit him.
Both trials are set to commence in 2020. However, the EFF leader bemoaned the fact that the dockets had yet to be made available to his legal representative.
Malema said the media was also party to concerted efforts to discredit him.
This, after various investigative reports had connected the dots to him and EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu with regard to their having allegedly benefited from funds that were looted from the now defunct VBS Mutual Bank.
“There are many allegations and media reports on me and Floyd, but they will not affect the prospects of the EFF as a party because our people are not stupid; they can see what is happening,” said Malema.
“If the EFF has taken R16 million from VBS, as alleged, an EFF rally – just one rally – costs us no less than R35 million. But it is alleged that this R16 million we allegedly took covered the costs of our rally in KwaZulu-Natal, it also bought Malema [sic] a house and luxurious cars, and bought Shivambu a luxurious house and car as well. All this for R16 million? Do you think R16 million can buy all of this? It is practically impossible,” said a furious Malema.
“The media and those who wish us ill use the VBS allegations and recycle them, just to undermine our message of anti-corruption – so that over time, when we say: ‘These people are corrupt, these people are stealing from the poor,’ they can turn around and say: ‘Look who is talking, you don’t qualify because you have a VBS [scandal],’ which is absolute nonsense.”
The EFF leader said these accusations would have no bearing on electing the party’s new leaders at the upcoming National People’s Assembly.
“This too shall pass. I know this from experience because initially I was accused of collapsing the government of Limpopo. I am not like [former president Jacob] Zuma: I do not have any position of influence which people can say I am using to avoid being prosecuted.
“I have never refused to take responsibility or to be held accountable. They just smear me and smear Floyd in the court of public opinion.”
Malema said the more pressing issues that the party would discuss at its elective conference would be the EFF Student Command and, in particular, how the structure had failed to stand on its own.
“There is no threat to shut down the student command; I don’t know where this [idea] is coming from. I engaged with them at their conference and asked them why they were not adding value to the mother body. I told them that the branches that they had inherited were actually the branches that we launched as the mother body.
“They have not gone beyond this and launched their own branches as the student command.
“I said to them: ‘You don’t have a life of your own where you can finance your own meetings and print your own posters and T-shirts. We must wake up one day and be told that you have [organised] a march to the department of education or the nursing profession council to engage with them on how they treat students or Nsfas (the National Student Financial Aid Scheme) – all that done by yourselves, without depending on the mother body to assist.’
“I told them that I was not demanding of them things I have not done. I was a president of Cosas (the Congress of SA Students); I know it is possible. I was also a president of the ANC Youth League; I know it is possible,” said Malema.
He went on to compare the EFF Student Command to the ANC Youth League during the time he was its leader, when the league organised the biggest conference on its own in 2011.
Speculation has also been rife that the upcoming elective conference could be a hotly contested one for the EFF.
This, after allegations surfaced that some members vying for votes were promising delegates gifts in exchange for their votes.
Malema said there was nothing wrong with contestation, as long as everyone respected the outcome.
“It will be a robust engagement. I was saying in our meeting yesterday that the way in which our leaders and members have conducted themselves is really commendable because none of them has gone and taken a tangent and attacked each other in public or called each other names.”
Malema said the main priority of the conference was to see the party emerge united, as the elected leadership would have a huge task ahead of them in trying to topple President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration.