Columns 12.2.2015 07:00 am

Do the right thing, Gayton

Sunday Independent Editor, Steve Motale

Sunday Independent Editor, Steve Motale

If allegations linking Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema to massive abuse of his party’s funds are proved to be true, it will confirm the saying “old habits die hard”.

Malema is currently out on bail facing charges of corruption and money laundering, charges he denies. He has often blamed his arch foe, President Jacob Zuma for his legal battles.

Over the past few weeks, the EFF has been dogged by infighting. Disgruntled senior leaders of the EFF – and recently some unknown, not so bright power-hungry EFF rebels such as Lufuno Gogoro – have pointed to Malema’s dictatorial tendencies, as well as his involvement in the alleged looting of EFF coffers.

Now ex-convict, author and businessman Gayton McKenzie has rattled Malema with even more startling revelations.

In an open letter that went viral, McKenzie brands the embattled EFF leader as “conmander-in-thief” and makes shocking claims that link Malema and his lieutenant Floyd shivambu to serious acts of criminality.

McKenzie accuses Malema of using an EFF credit card for his personal use and to service his multimillion-rand tax debt.

These allegations and many others levelled against Malema and Shivambu lay bare the reality that at the centre of this bitter feud is the nearly R70 million the EFF receives annually from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

The commission utilises the Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act, 103 of 1997 to manage the Represented Political Parties’ Fund, which provides funding for political parties represented in parliament and provincial legislatures. The Act clearly spells out the purposes for which the money should be used. These include “purposes compatible with the party’s functioning as a political party in a modern democracy”.

Most significantly, the Act bars a political party from paying “any direct or indirect remuneration or other benefit of any kind to any elected representative of the party or to any public servant at any level of government”.

If McKenzie’s claims are valid, Malema and his cronies have a case to answer. This perhaps explains Malema’s spectacular failure to respond adequately to these damaging claims.

Asked by a radio talk show host for a response to McKenzie’s letter, Malema called his accuser “a pig”. Maybe Juju’s brief mental paralysis was inflicted by his knowledge of McKenzie’s successful track record of exposing corruption.

Thirteen years ago, McKenzie and his fellow inmates, among them Kenny Kunene, made headlines after they set up a video camera in their Grootvlei Prison cells that exposed massive corruption by prison officials.

Corruption in South Africa has reached alarming proportions. Citizens need to be encouraged to take a stand, something McKenzie has commendably done.

But I have a serious problem with the method McKenzie uses to blow the whistle on Malema.

If he is in possession of strong and credible information linking Malema to crime, he should inform the relevant authorities.

In his letter, McKenzie apologises for his past life of thuggery and insists he is making amends. An open letter won’t serve any decent purpose, and merely embarrasses the addressee.

Gayton, please do the right thing.

 

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