In a tweet on Monday morning, DA federal executive chairperson Helen Zille zeroed in on a politically charged comment from EFF leader Julius Malema on Sunday in which he made generalisations about whites and history and hinted that it was wrong for black people to be “afraid” to topple “the statues of white people”.
She accused Malema of hate speech, going as far as to say it would meet the narrow definition of actually inciting harm.
Zille also seemed to suggest there had been a shortfall in the online outrage department after Malema had made his speech in North West, in yet another barb at her critics for what she has termed “fauxrage” (a coinage for false outrage on social media, which she has additionally blamed on social media bots and claimed she’s been a major victim of).
Malema was speaking ahead of a by-election on Wednesday to elect a new council in Mamusa after the municipality was dissolved and placed under administration last year.
In his speech, Malema accused black voters of incorrectly targeting African migrants when their real oppressors have, according to him, been white people – something he has said in the past and was a sentiment that was also controversially expressed by ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule last year.
The DA laid charges of hate speech against Magashule in September for saying: “You must never despise people who have the same skin colour with us. Their colour, whether it’s people from Mozambique or Angola or Nigeria or anywhere in the 54 countries in Africa, you must know you are from Africa. Because there are many others with whitish colour – you don’t know them, they are there. You see them all the time, but you can’t say this one ke le kwerekwere (offensive term for foreigners), this one comes from somewhere else. They are here in this country. They have never been attacked and they are so-called foreigners because their colour is white. And you must understand why Africans must unite is because the whites don’t want Africa to come together…”
Similarly, on Sunday, Malema said: “As black people, we kill Nigerians, accusing them of selling drugs and we kill Zimbabweans accusing them of stealing our jobs. Yet, the white man committed a genocide against us, took land, raped our mothers, killed our child in Coligny for picking up a sunflower; they kill our people saying that they have mistaken them for baboons. You’re even afraid to collapse the statues of white people. Why? Because you hate yourself.
“Black people in South Africa, in Africa and in the diaspora, we are all the same, we are all facing the same struggle. We must unite,” said Malema.
Zille responded that Malema was guilty of “Another string of hateful race generalisations, not to mention hate speech (real threats of imminent physical violence). Will there be an outcry? I’ll wait a while.”
Her tweet, as usual, divided opinion strongly. Her supporters tended to agree that Malema had uttered both hate speech and been allowed to get away with it, with little outrage, while her critics failed to see what had made it hate speech at all.
(Compiled by Charles Cilliers)