Columns 23.10.2018 09:35 am

Why the EFF’s Gordhan conspiracy theories are dangerous

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) deputy leader Floyd Shivambu, left, and EFF Commander-In-Chief Julius Malema briefing the media on the VBS Bank scandal in Johannesburg, 16 October 2018. Picture: ANA

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) deputy leader Floyd Shivambu, left, and EFF Commander-In-Chief Julius Malema briefing the media on the VBS Bank scandal in Johannesburg, 16 October 2018. Picture: ANA

Conspiracy theories are dangerous if peddled to gullible supporters such as some of those who support Malema.

The Google dictionary describes a conspiracy as a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful.

“A conspiracy to destroy the government” is cited as an example. It says further, “the action of plotting or conspiring”.

The well-orchestrated press conference in defence of Floyd Shivambu last week saw the commander-in-chief of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Julius Malema allege that Pravin Gordhan is the mastermind behind a clique that has captured the National Treasury.

If the allegations are to be believed, Gordhan has to be the most powerful politician in South Africa right now. More powerful than the president because he not only allegedly controls how and where money is spent by the government, he’s also in cahoots with that infamous clique of wealthy white men based in Stellenbosch that secretly runs the whole country.

The thing about conspiracy theories is the one making the accusations doesn’t have to present any credible evidence. They just need to be a really good storyteller.

They also need a few things that are in the public domain that the public will agree and identify with.

For instance, Gordhan was the head of the South African Revenue Service (Sars), while a number of units or task teams were formed to deal with various tax crimes. A good conspiracy theorist will know that inserting the word “rogue” in front of the word unit changes the whole thing. It now becomes: Pravin oversaw the formation of a rogue tax unit while head of Sars.

And, by the way, the Sikhakhane commission proved that a rogue unit existed at Sars, according to Malema. What Malema conveniently forgot to tell the public was that KPMG had withdrawn its findings in the report.

Furthermore, the Sunday Times has retracted the articles that Sikhakhane based his reports on.

A good conspiracy theory is built over time, with a relentless pursuit of the targeted individual or group.

Remember when Shivambu alleged “there is a deliberate attempt to undermine African leadership” with regards to Ismail Momoniat at Treasury? Momoniat and Gordhan happen to be of Indian descent.

Despite their unquestionable struggle credentials, the leadership of the EFF has over time sought to place a huge wedge between them and the rest of their ANC comrades.

When tensions ran high in Durban, Indian racism was brought up by Malema. You can easily connect the dots, that Indian influence led by Pravin must be at play at Treasury. So, Gordhan is so powerful that having been out of Treasury for close to two years, he still runs the show with the Stellenbosch crew.

One can only speculate on their reasons for their relentless pursuit of Gordhan with no evidence. It is no secret that Malema was pursued by the Sars task team(s) set up under Gordhan’s leadership at Sars.

It is also no secret that Malema’s most trying moments were when his political fallout with the Jacob Zuma group was followed by him being dragged into court over his tax transgressions.

The two may have been linked. No way of telling for sure. He probably knows more than we do about that. But to vilify an individual, allege a conspiracy by that individual and to publicly state that the individual has captured Treasury needs to be followed up by action.

Malema knows where the Zondo commission is sitting and all those allegations against Gordhan would be best made there, where they can be tested under cross-examination. Anything else, without concrete evidence, is a conspiracy theory.

Conspiracy theories are dangerous if they’re peddled to gullible supporters.

Sydney Majoko.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.

 

02

today in print