Fascism, race and violence: Why Julius Malema is a modern-day Eugene Terre'blanche
When the EFF arrived on the political scene in 2013, they were given a wide berth. Jacob Zuma's ANC was an unbreakable monolith, and Julius Malema and his newly-formed party helped to chip away until the whole edifice started to crumble. The party used the courts to hold Zuma to account, and it helped defend key institutions from the corrosion of corruption.
But everyone knew Malema and the EFF had a dark side, one where violence and racism were the driving force. South Africans heard it in Malema's rhetoric, saw it in the EFF's destruction of parliamentary protocol and cringed at the EFF's consistent attacks on white and Indian South Africans. It was wished away, ignored and rationalised because the party seemingly represented a frustrated, angry and marginalised section of the black electorate.
This has, however, become untenable. Last Friday in Senekal, a town grappling with race, history and crime – like the rest of the country – Malema saw it fit to exploit the situation and further inflame tensions, with no regard for the consequences.
He has, over the last couple of years, launched damaging attacks on our constitutional democracy, the rule of law and South Africans of every race and creed – including some black South Africans who he accuses of selling out (he called President Cyril Ramaphosa "the adopted son" of "racist farmers" last week).
I was in Senekal listening to him, standing off-stage when he launched into his diatribe. No matter how many times you hear Malema speak, his rhetoric remains jarring and his ideology deeply destructive. He needs to be held accountable and he must be challenged. This country can ill-afford the future that he wants to create.
Is he a modern-day Eugene Terre'blanche? I think so. Although the white supremacist Terre'blanche never took part in formal politics, and Malema is duly and constitutionally elected to Parliament, the two show similar traits of demagoguery and narcissism.
I wrote the anchor piece this week and can predict the reaction from some quarters. But read Professor Adam Habib's clear explanation to me why he is convinced Malema and the EFF are fascist. He cites three yardsticks by which fascism is measured – and the EFF qualifies under all three. Max du Preez gives valuable insight into Terre'blanche and the white right of the late 1980s and early 1990s, while Mpumelelo Mkhabela brings a reality check.
Also taking part in the debate is News24's political editor, Qaanitah Hunter, who has seen the party up close over the last couple of years. Her advice? Ignore Malema. Ivor Sarakinsky, an associate professor at the University of the Witwatersrand's school of governance, and Ongama Mtimka, from the Nelson Mandela University, also weigh in.
And if you disagree – and even if you agree – let us know.
Pieter du Toit
Assistant Editor: In-depth news
Julius Malema is exhibiting all the worst characteristics of Eugene Terre'blanche, the white supremacist who 30 years ago used the neo-Nazi AWB to further his racist and separatist brand of violent politics. Pieter du Toit listened to Malema's speech in Senekal last week and considers the similarities between the two men.
EFF leader Julius Malema exploits real issues only because those who are meant to make meaningful change are sleeping on the job, writes Qaanitah Hunter.
In the Free State, the EFF needs to increase its support in the provincial interior and not rely solely on the industrial north for support, writes Ivor Sarakinsky.
The EFF has learned to sometimes exploit legitimate black rage by positioning itself as the ultimate vanguard of their struggle for socioeconomic liberation through effective but meaningless political action, writes Ongama Mtimka.
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