In a column for News24, Corporate SA chairperson Tebogo Khaas argued that Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema was “one of our democracy’s greatest national security challenges”.
Khaas quotes from Fiona Forde’s 2011 book An Inconvenient Youth: Julius Malema and the ‘new’ ANC, which describes the EFF leader as elevated to hero status after AfriForum took him to court for singing the song Dubula iBhunu, often translated as “Kill the boer”.
“AfriForum, who hauled Malema to court on hate speech charges, unwittingly earned Malema considerable social and political currency as he vanquished the race-based organisation before a live television audience,” Khaas writes.
Khaas, who aside from being chair of Corporate SA is also a businessman, former CEO and IT engineer, bases this view on an excerpt of Forde’s book.
Forde writes that “a year to the day after I had sat with him in that hotel foyer in Caracas, Malema was revelling in his new-found status. He had become a political hero as the villain in a hate speech trial that was initiated by AfriForum over his singing of the Struggle song Dubula iBhunu.
“And it was a court case that played right into his lap.
“Like his political forebears, Malema finally had his day in court. It was an important moment for him and one that would give him the political legitimacy he lacked because the court plays a pivotal role in ANC struggle and contemporary history. Until then he had no struggle credentials, trading instead on the fact that his mother was a domestic worker. And now he was about to earn them, within the confines of a Johannesburg courtroom,” she wrote.
Khaas goes on to argue that this, his first taste of fame through the SA judiciary, had led to him continuing to attempt to use court cases for political capital.
“Current legal skirmishes between Malema and journalists, a substantial majority of whom are female, should be seen in the context of his penchant for using the courts and television as his gladiator arenas.
“It is conceivable that Malema thinks that the current Equality Court hate speech trial will also play into his lap. But he could be dead wrong!” Khaas suggested.
At the time of publication, AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel and deputy CEO Ernst Roets had not responded to questions as to whether they agree or disagree that their lobby group may have unwittingly earned Malema political clout.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)