It is often said that the “internet never forgets”. This appears to be true of Twitter, where some users have brought up the fact that Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema, whose party has become a vociferous defender of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, declared in 2017 that he had “information” proving she was a spy.
The EFF has joined Mkhwebane’s defence in two cases at the High Court in Pretoria – one in which Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan was granted an interdict on Monday halting the remedial action she ordered against him in a report, and one taking place today, in which President Cyril Ramaphosa is seeking an interdict that would allow him (at least for now) to avoid taking remedial action against Gordhan in connection with a separate report.
Malema arrived at court on Thursday alongside EFF members including secretary-general Godrich Gardee, spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and former youth leader and MP Vuyani Pambo, and was photographed sharing a joke with Advocate Dali Mpofu, who was at the court not in his capacity as EFF national chairperson but as Mkhwebane’s advocate.
But some on Twitter have pointed out that Malema and his party’s recent attempts to protect the office of the public protector mark a dramatic shift on their opinion on Mkhwebane, who the leader of the red berets had previously called “a Gupta puppet” and said should be called the “state protector” rather than the “public protector”.
READ MORE: EFF regrets its endorsement of Mkhwebane
Malema spoke at a press conference in 2017 following the party’s third plenum to formulate the party’s strategic plans for the year, where he said the EFF had conducted an investigation and had proof Mkhwebane was a spy.
He added that he and the EFF regretted their decision to support Mkhwebane and wished they could take it back.
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi had ignored questions on how and why the party and Malema changed their position on Mkhwebane at the time of publication.
However, a recent comment he made after the EFF’s recent controversial behaviour in parliament, which saw the party removed from the chamber for trying to prevent Gordhan delivering his department’s budget vote speech, suggests that Malema’s spy accusations and “Gupta puppet” insults would be met with protest from his own party’s spokesperson.
“Never show contempt to the public protector. It doesn’t matter who holds that office, it doesn’t matter the incumbent – protect and respect chapter 9 institutions or else you are going to be met with protest here and we are ready for anything – the army, your hooligans that you call security, we are ready for all of them,” Ndlozi said.
Another Flip Flop the moment @Julius_S_Malema is worried his crimes are going to be exposed by Gordhan. WAKE UP EFF! #PublicProtectorMkhwebane #BusisiweMkhwebane #ConCourt #PublicProtector #GordhanvsPublicProtector pic.twitter.com/AeauB58Grl
— Wake up SA!! (@fabfol1) August 1, 2019
The nation was addressed in daylight by CIC @Julius_S_Malema who said to the nation "Mkhwebane is a Gupta puppet straight from de Gupta kitchen"."Once a spy always a Spy". Now I believe that the guy is leading a cult, when he changes you also change
— Russia Magomani (@Russia61375910) July 29, 2019
Been pondering about @Julius_S_Malema 's assessment of Mkhwebane: "That woman, terrible mistake we've done! We've just took a Gupta puppet,from Gupta kitchen, & let her to work there. We must stop calling her PP, and call her state protector. She's a spy"https://t.co/oy9y1QA2Xq
— Keith Dinabantu (@KeithDinabantu) July 28, 2019
CIC Julius Malema on Public Protector Busi Mkhwebana: "Once a spy, always a spy"…
— Mkhululi Chimoio (@MkhululiChimoio) August 1, 2019
"I got it from reliable spooks that she is a spy"-Julius Malema
Now why are we now protecting a spy? https://t.co/eXq94xwzQP
— Monogamy isn't realistic❄ (@Peter35671998) August 1, 2019
Julius Malema called Mkhwebane a spy
Julius Malema asked Mama Winnie to send a signal
Jiki Jiki Julius Malema supports Mkhwebane
Mama sent the signal and the EFF are complying. If only the ANC would do same
— Mogoeng Mkhwebane (@mithisa_motho) August 1, 2019