The EFF is like the Boeremag. Really?
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema can say dumb and reckless things. But does his rhetoric equal acts of treason? A court would be hard-pressed to make such a finding, but the ANC is already talking up criminal charges.
The minister who came from nowhere to enter the heart of the presidency, State Security’s David Mahlobo, is priming for an investigation into the Red Berets, who have amped up talk of the army being unhappy with the political order and whose leader, in a swashbuckling interview with Al Jazeera, has threatened to settle matters through the barrel of a gun.
Malema is from the bosom of the ANC. It is where he learnt his talk and walk, so the governing party should recognise hot election rhetoric for what it is. The ANC is in a particularly paranoid state, with Mahlobo, and even the party’s secretary-general, regularly raising allegations of plots and third forces geared to overturn the party. This week, the newly minted chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, compared the EFF to the Boeremag, the far-right daddy commando that tried to overthrow the ANC government.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The nation (or large parts of it) is in a froth over our scandal-prone President Jacob Zuma. A small community has rallied around the hashtag #ZumaMustFall. But this is not tantamount to treason, or a threat to overthrow the ANC. It feels like most people would be happy if the ANC gave our president a nice farewell and a good pension, and continued to govern the country.
But by talking treason and investigations, the governing party is exposing two things. First, that it is spooked by the upstart EFF and, second, that it will use state power to fight a political enemy.
Mahlobo has shown his hand for two years now, allowing his spooks to turn the opening of Parliament and the parliamentary precinct into a securocrat state infiltrated by intelligence forces, both from his sphere and from crime intelligence.
There are still unanswered questions about the goon squad that regularly kicks the EFF out of Parliament: Are they a parliamentary police service or a parachute battalion with an opaque command structure brought in to protect the president? The EFF is a feisty and legally elected opposition. It’s tiny, talented and would do well to stop its war talk – but Boeremag? Give us a break.