Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters
(EFF), has reiterated his call for transparency concerning the party’s
During various media briefings over the course of the last
month, Malema has issued a brave invitation to journalists. In daring defence
against fierce allegations of fraud and corruption, the EFF’s Commander in
Chief has welcomed journalists into the party’s repository, promising to reveal,
without prejudice, all financial records in question.
Malema invites journalists to have a look
While conducting a recent interview with 702 Talk Radio host, Eusebius McKaiser, Malema responded to questions about the alleged illicit flow of cash into the EFF’s accounts, Malema said:
“The books are there. We audit the books and then we submit them to parliament. I’ve said in press conferences that any journalist that wants to go through the EFF books is more than welcome.”
Malema went as far as providing the contact details of the
party’s accountant, explaining that appropriate viewing arrangements needed to
be made but that doing so would not be prohibited.
The proposition, while forthright on the surface, is set
against the backdrop of an uninviting rhetoric, fuelled by Malema’s fiery
confrontations with various role-players in South Africa’s media. Investigative
journalists have all too often been the target of Malema’s spurious wrath; the recent
open invitation to view, serving as a decrepit olive branch, sought, ostensibly,
to ease an uncomfortable friction.
EFF financial review comes with some serious strings attached
The offer, however, comes with some serious strings attached.
During a recent impromptu press briefing at the Rand Show in Johannesburg,
Malema attached certain conditions to his earlier offer, taking swipes at ‘opportunistic
people’ who only want to view financial documents as a way to further a ‘political
agenda’. Malema said:
“We have opened our books to journalists; real journalists, not opportunistic people who come with preconceived ideas, putting us on a deadline [and say] ‘give us the books now’. We are not working in the newsroom, we can’t give you the books now.
There is no one in our offices now. Even the staff members have left their original positions to be where they are because this is the last push.”
Malema went on to say that any journalist who requests to
see the financial books in the run-up to 8 May, is simply seeking to ‘distract
the EFF from its election work’. The leader of the Red Berets added that once
the elections were over and done with, they would then, and only then, be
willing to allocate time and effort towards the review process, saying:
“When everything is done we are willing to sit down with journalists and share whatever they want from us.”
Allegations of financial impropriety
Over the past year, the EFF has been embattled by numerous corruption scandals, both from internal dissidence and external fallouts. The VBS Mutual Banks saga, which essentially defrauded thousands of low-income households, is the most well-known example, with familial connections and investigations casting a shadow on the party’s deputy president, Floyd Shivambu.
Recent allegations by a former EFF member, Zolile Xalisa, claim that the party’s leadership have been syphoning off funds for personal gain. According to Xalisa, Malema failed to account for dubious payments totalling R427 000 per month. Xalisa joins a long list of former EFF members who have also spoken out about the party’s alleged proclivity for corruption and underhand dealings.
Malema has denied the allegations made by former members and
has threatened legal action against those seeking to ‘defame’ the EFF.