Columns 15.9.2016 06:30 am

The politics of defamation, Malema and mudslinging in SA politics

EFF leader Julius Malema addresses Sunrise Park residents during his party's election campaign on July 07 in Rustenburg. Picture: Gallo Images

EFF leader Julius Malema addresses Sunrise Park residents during his party's election campaign on July 07 in Rustenburg. Picture: Gallo Images

That he has failed to corroborate any of his damaging claims with evidence disqualifies Malema from being a credible voice on libel.

Many people were justifiably left bemused when Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema recently urged the party’s national chairperson, Dali Mpofu, to sue an ANC Youth League leader for what he perceived as defamation.

Malema was apparently annoyed by comments attributed to the league’s secretary-general, Njabulo Nzuza, who claimed Mpofu was somehow behind the Occupy Luthuli House campaign.

It remains a mystery why Malema…has not yet been slapped with a multimillion-rand lawsuit

Nzuza claimed the advocate was funding the protest with R5 million he received from the US. Malema was so infuriated by the “slanderous” allegations he called on Mpofu to “sue the bastard”.

But is Malema the right individual to lecture anyone on defamation when he holds the record for the highest number of slanderous statements yet to be uttered by a South African politician?

No doubt Nzuza’s wild claims, which he failed to substantiate with any credible piece of evidence, were malicious. This is perhaps part of a new culture of SA politics, which has degenerated to unprecedented levels of intellectual bankruptcy that has seen politicians engaging in mudslinging and insults instead of robust and constructive engagement.

READ MORE: EFF blackmails DA councils, threatens to ‘put it on notice’

Recently, Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association chairperson and Deputy Defence Minister Kebby Maphatsoe lost two defamation cases in one day – one brought by former intelligence minister and struggle veteran Ronnie Kasrils and the other by another struggle veteran, Tshidiso Mokhoanatse.

In Kasrils’s case, after a morning of testimony, Maphatsoe apologised “irrevocably and unconditionally” to Kasrils and to all the women of SA who were offended by statements he made about Kasrils in 2014.

Kasrils sued Maphatsoe for R1 million for defamation after Maphatsoe in 2014 called him a counter-revolutionary who had wanted to sell intelligence to imperialists and who encouraged the woman who accused President Jacob Zuma of rape.

But it remains a mystery why Malema, who has made it a hobby to defame his rivals, has not yet been slapped with a multimillion-rand lawsuit.

While president of the ANC Youth League, Malema once accused female reporters who exposed his corrupt business dealings in Limpopo of sleeping with politicians to get stories. Shortly after the 2009 general elections, he accused Western Cape Premier Helen Zille of sleeping with the men who dominated her Cabinet.

ALSO READ: Mbete guns for Holomisa over alleged VBS shares

Earlier this year, he claimed City of Joburg officials were sleeping with women before giving them jobs and houses. Last month, the EFF leader made damning accusations against the league’s national treasurer and Mabala Noise executive chair Reggie Nkabinde and Minister of Water Affairs Nomvula Mokonyane, alleging they had a “special relationship”.

Building on the insinuation he was making about Mokonyane, he added: “Nomvula likes them young.” Malema labelled Nkabinde a “favourite” of Mokonyane’s, but he also included former Kaizer Chiefs star Jimmy Tau.

This week, mayhem erupted in parliament when Malema tagged SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni “Mrs Dudu Myeni-Zuma”, insinuating there was a special relationship between the two.

That he has failed to corroborate any of his damaging claims with evidence disqualifies Malema from being a credible voice on libel.

Steven Motale

The Citizen Editor Steven Motale is pictured in his office. Picture: Michel Bega

poll

today in print