After the former premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, on Tuesday morning tweeted an invitation to EFF leader Julius Malema to appear as a guest on her podcast “for a no-holds barred discussion on South Africa’s future prospects”, he responded with a dismissive joke obliquely referencing the fact that she is 68 years old.
Zille’s podcast, Tea with Helen, has seen her joined by notable South African minds such as former public protector Thuli Madonsela, Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib as well as journalists Ferial Haffajee and Max du Preez.
However, instead of joining their ranks, Malema mocked Zille’s age on Tuesday evening, saying: “I think you are lost, are you not looking for #SASSA [SA Social Security Agency] offices?” in a reference to the fact that Zille has remained active on the sociopolitical scene despite being a few years past the retirement age of 60 or 65 for most employees in the South African workplace.
Zille, the one-time DA leader who is now a senior policy fellow for the Institute for Race Relations, initially posted a Twitter poll on Monday calling for public input as to who she should interview next on her show – former president Thabo Mbeki or Malema.
Seemingly, Malema won out and Zille sent out the call to the EFF leader. It’s highly unlikely he will accept.
Malema has mocked Zille since his time more than a decade ago as the leader of the ANC Youth League, when he was known for referring to her as “the Madam”.
Questions sent to the EFF’s communications team about the invitation by News24 had initially gone unanswered. Asked about whether the EFF leader was aware of the invitation and whether he planned to attend, Malema’s personal assistant told News24 on Tuesday that they “haven’t heard anything about it”.
When a wire news article was initially uploaded reporting that Malema had not responded, he pointed out on Twitter that he had, three hours earlier.
Twitter users had earlier expressed various reactions to Zille’s invitation.
One user suggested it “… somehow extends unity between people of colour in South Africa”.
Another user suggested the invitation was part of a ploy to launch the podcast.
One Twitter user said they “encourage the CIC to attend this session, provided that the tea will not be spilled on him and the session scandalised”.
There were also numerous reaction to Malema’s response: