At an impromptu press conference in the parliamentary precinct on Thursday evening, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema confronted recent claims from Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu that racism towards South Africans of Indian origin may be behind the EFF’s “pursuit” of Gordhan.
“It’s not about Indians. Zuma, Gigaba, Nene were not Indians. We have gone after Africans who’ve violated the constitution. It’s not about race. Don’t violate the constitution and hide behind the race card,” he said.
“Our secretary general is Indian so why would we be anti-Indian? It means Godrich [Gardee] is anti-himself, it doesn’t make sense at all.
“When we go after Africans, there aren’t any issues, but touch a minority and we are called racists.
“This is where the EFF stands and this is how we are going to charging moving forward.
This follows Mthembu confronting the EFF in parliament on Wednesday over their “pursuit” of Gordhan, accusing the party of racism towards South Africans of Indian descent.
“Why do the EFF pursue Gordhan so much? Let’s just try and answer this question,” he said.
“Why this anarchic pursuit of this stalwart of our liberation movement?
“One reason that we want to put is that there is a deep-seated hatred for our Indian compatriots among this.”
After this provoked the anger of the EFF caucus, Mthembu continued: “Of course, you are racist. You are.”
Malema himself has been accused of racism towards Indian South Africans before and has been taken to the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHR) over comments at rallies, although the complaint was dismissed.
At the EFF’s youth celebrations in Klerksdorp, North West, Malema took to the podium to tell a large crowd: “[The] majority of Indians hate Africans, [the] majority of Indians are racist, and we must never be scared to say that they are racist.
“I’m not saying all Indians, I’m saying the majority of them,” he added.
Not long after this, in his speech to mark the EFF’s fifth birthday at Sisa Dukashe stadium in East London, Malema used the term “Indian supremacists”.
“There is no place in South Africa for white supremacists and Indian supremacists,” he said.
Giving evidence of what he saw as Indian people mistreating black people, Malema recounted: “We went to Durban during our fourth anniversary and I visited a factory where Indians were underpaying African people.”
Before this, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu was accused of racism after complaining about “non-African” Ismail Momoniat’s “repeated presence” in meetings.
Momoniat is the deputy director-general of Treasury and a struggle veteran.
“I think he undermines Africans. He does not take the director-general, the finance minister, or the deputy finance minister seriously. He thinks he is superior to them. He takes all the decisions and he is always here in Parliament as if he is National Treasury alone. He is supposed to focus on what he is assigned to,” Shivambu said, leading to outrage from finance committee chairperson Yunus Carrim.