EFF leader Julius Malema. ~ Rogan Ward
Johannesburg – EFF leader Julius Malema’s threat to remove the government at gunpoint was not incitement to violence and should be seen in the context of the elections, one of its senior leaders has said.
"We will hear what the court has to say, but definitely, it is not an incitement of violence. It's a fair political comment in an election-mood period. When a country is in an election period, it should be seen in that context," secretary general Godrich Gardee said on Monday.
He was speaking following a public meeting in Chiawelo, Soweto.
"All that he said was that in the Economic Freedom Fighters we will definitely never dare to take up the barrel of a gun and fight this ANC government as and when it reacts violently to the peaceful protests of our people as and when they protest against poor services in their lives," Gardee said.
However, he later questioned why arms should not be taken up against the ANC.
"When the apartheid government was killing our people, prior to 1994, how did the ANC respond? It took up arms. So why should arms not be taken up against it when it is busy killing our people like it massacred our people in Marikana? It cannot be," he said.
He said the EFF would stop the government when it killed people protesting for water, electricity, and higher wages. He did not explain how it intended to do this.
‘Barrel of a gun’
During an episode of Talk To Al Jazeera last week, Malema told interviewer Jonah Hull that if the ruling ANC continued to respond violently to peaceful protests, "we will run out of patience very soon and we will remove this government through the barrel of a gun".
Malema was asked if he was literally saying people should take up arms against the government.
“I mean it literally. We are not scared. We are not going to have a government that disrespects us," he said.
On Monday, the ANC opened a treason case against Malema.
ANC spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa, said Malema's utterances were treasonable and constituted a violation of the Electoral Commission of SA’s (IEC) charter.
Gardee said it was up to the National Prosecuting Authority to decide if free political speech was a crime.