FRIDAY BRIEFING | Fascism, race and violence: Why Julius Malema is the modern-day Eugene Terre'blanche

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Friday Briefing

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

Fascism, race and violence: Why Julius Malema is the modern-day Eugene Terre'blanche

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.

To fix South Africa, we should ignore Julius Malema

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.

Cynical about Senekal? It's more complicated than that

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

EFF were in Senekal as part of its guerrilla warfare strategy, not to defend state property

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

To receive the Friday Briefing, sign up for the newsletter here. Now available to all News24 readers.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
When assisting your child with remote learning this year, did you:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Follow the school's comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) curriculum?
13% - 357 votes
Adjust the CSE curriculum to suit the family's morals?
24% - 631 votes
Ignore the schools CSE programme and do your own teaching?
63% - 1673 votes
Brent Crude
All Share
Top 40
Financial 15
Industrial 25
Resource 10
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo