The EFF is like the Bo­eremag. Re­ally?

CityPress - - Voices -

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.

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