An EFF press briefing is about as close as an international journalist can get to being dropped in the lion’s den. One French reporter found this out the hard way on Thursday when he locked horns with Julius Malema.
Julius Malema at the EFF Presser
The journalist, who was representing a French television network, asked the party leader if the EFF had to take more responsibility for “racial tensions” in the country, now they are the third-most popular party in South Africa. His oversight of their 2014 performance seemed to irk Juju, who cut him no mercy with the response:
“There are no tensions in South Africa but there is in France. No-one from here ever came to your country and said these things. You are living an imaginary life. You are imagining these tensions. You are dreaming of this. We’ve never perpetuated hatred.”
“The SAHRC have already cleared us of hate speech. We are robust, but there is no tension and instigation of violence. We’ve been speaking this language for five years and there are no issues. We are the ones who go into communities and diffuse the tensions.”
French journalist mauled in “lion’s den”
The exchange was awkward, to say the least. Whether his question was lost in translation or not, Malema certainly didn’t take kindly to suggestions that he was involved in inciting racial hatred across Mzansi.
Perhaps the reporter had watched last Thursday’s episode of The Daily Show, where comedian Trevor Noah picked out Juju’s infamous quote on white genocide – you know, the one where he says it’s not happening “at least for now”.
Julius Malema and hate speech
He was cleared of any wrongdoing by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), but many South Africans feel that this utterance crossed the line. His recent spat with another journalist – Karima Brown – is also the subject to a court battle, as are Julius Malema’s repeated calls for citizens to orchestrate “land grabs”.
Malema finished his retort by claiming that his “colourful language”, shall we say, is not loaded with malicious intent. He claims that it’s all in a day’s work when you’re battling “white supremacy”.
“Our people will engage you on white superiority. We are making the comfortable feel uncomfortable. We don’t apologise for It, we want to collapse white supremacy in South Africa.”