NATIONAL NEWS - At a rally in the North West town of Schweizer Reneke, ahead of a by-election in the Mamusa municipality on Wednesday, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema indicated that the calm which has prevailed at parliament’s state of the nation (Sona) address since Cyril Ramaphosa replaced Jacob Zuma as president may be short-lived.
The leader of the red berets has threatened to disrupt February’s Sona if the president does not fire Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan.
“I want to tell Cyril Ramaphosa today that if he can’t fire Pravin before the state of the nation address, the state of the nation address shall be about Pravin,” Malema said.
“We will stand up there. We will stop him from speaking. We will tell him you must fire Pravin because we must protect South Africa’s assets.
“If Ramaphosa is not prepared to protect our assets by firing Pravin, then Ramaphosa must go.”
The party earned a reputation for disrupting most speeches by former president Zuma since the landmark 2014 Sona showdown at which the party chanted “pay back the money” during Zuma’s address.
Since Ramaphosa took over, things have been relatively calm. While the EFF threatened to disrupt his both his first Sona in February 2019 and his second in June, they both went smoothly, particularly compared to those in Zuma’s second term.
However, the EFF’s animosity towards Gordhan threatens to upset this apple cart.
The party has fresh ammunition against the minister following deputy president David Mabuza’s comment that Gordhan, as well as the board of Eskom, have misled the president, who promised South Africa there would be no load shedding until January 13, only for it to return on January 4.
Eskom board chairperson Jabu Mabuza resigned as a result of the controversy, and the EFF has called for Gordhan to step down too.
Gordhan has been one of the EFF’s primary targets since Ramaphosa became president, with the party having accused the minister of being corrupt, a “dog of white monopoly capital“, and someone who “hates Africans“.
These claims resulted in Gordhan dragging Malema and the party to the equality court, where it was ruled that the utterances did not constitute hate speech.
“Despite the fact that the utterances were indeed hateful and aimed at endangering hatred against the applicant, the applicant has failed to bring his understandable grievances within the compass of the Equality Act,” Judge Roland Sutherland ruled.
The EFF has also accused Gordhan of being part of an “Indian cabal” and “operating a parallel state apparatus” while a member of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the 1980s, and made allegations about the minister’s daughter enriching herself through state contracts.
In addition, the EFF has accused the minister of having a Canadian bank account, in which he supposedly has more than R665 million stashed away as a result of earlier “favours” for taxpayers, a claim debunked in a fact check by News24.
Malema lodged a criminal case against Gordhan over the alleged bank account at the Brooklyn Police Station in Pretoria on November 2018, with Gordhan laying criminal defamation and incitement to commit violence charges against the EFF in response.