Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema has declared war on the different statues of “the Apartheid regime” in Cape Town, challenging his followers to take them down, using any methods necessary, even if they landed in prison.
Ushered in with shrilling whistles, praise singing, multi denomination prayers and introduced as the incoming president of the country, Malema called on the spectators at the Human Rights Day celebration in Langa to start with the Louis Botha statue in front of Parliament, while offering his party’s services in taking down the Cecil Rhodes one at the University of Cape Town, free of charge.
Accompanied by his top commanders and several members of Parliament and Western Cape leaders, Malema was addressing thousands of EFF followers at the Langa High School, some who had been waiting for four hours for him to speak.
He said the EFF was more than willing to remove the Cecil Rhodes statue which has been at the centre of controversy at UCT, with students protesting calling for it to be taken down. “It is this EFF that will take down the Rhodes statue at UCT. I don’t know why we should be having a discussion about whether he must fall or not. That is not up for discussion. Rhodes must fall. We cannot have a debate about that. It is very painful to be forced to celebrate people who have oppressed us. Rhodes is a symbol of colonialism. He is the one who put away black people into these types of townships we have now because he wanted to create a city for whites.
“Rhodes must fall. And if he is not going to fall properly because they think it is expensive to bring it down, the masses must crush that statue. It will not be expensive. They can hire our services, we will go and remove it free of charge. It’s a violation of our rights to be forced to be greeted by Rhodes at UCT. It, like all of them, belongs to a dustbin of history.”
Malema had the men, women and children in stitches as he blamed the spirit of Rhodes for the struggles in Zimbabwe, where he is buried. He said he needed to be exhumed and be reburied in Britain.
“The same thing with Verwoerd. Reconciliation, reconciliation Verwoerd. Verwoerd se foot man. They must go where they come from. We cannot keep celebrating the architects of apartheid. The same thing with every symbol that comes out of apartheid; all of them must leave our buildings into the dustbin of history.”
Calling it depressing, he said the big Louis Botha statue in front of Parliament in Roeland Street must go down. “I am challenging you. Revolution is not a legal activity. The fighters of Western Cape, I am challenging you. That statue of Botha must go down, and how it goes down is your business. How it goes down I am not interested, but make a plan.
“Every day, we are not only depressed by [speaker] Baleka Mbete, we get depressed first by Botha. When you get inside, you will find Baleka with Botha tendencies, and that is worse. There is no way she cannot act like Botha, because she is inspired by Botha, right in front of Parliament.”
Malema said the taking down of statues should not be limited to the Western Cape and should be nationwide. “Those who love their democracy, those who despise apartheid and everything it represents, have a duty to remove those symbols. Stop being cry-babies. You brought down apartheid, you can’t fail to bring down its symbols. It is your duty as a revolutionalist, take it upon yourself. Prison or no prison, you must be arrested for bringing down Botha. That’s how history should remember you. If they want to arrest me for saying this and say I’m inciting violence, they know where to find me.”
Malema had the followers, who all sat quietly through his speech with the occasional shouts of “Buwa”, mesmerised as he talked about how they could not say they had any rights if they did not have access to basic services.
Not so subtly addressing the factions and members who have accused the party leadership of focusing on the pay back the money to the exclusion of everything else, he said they were busy fighting for the rights of the poor, but they put everything aside whenever given a chance to question President Jacob Zuma about Nkandla.
“Some Mickey Mouses say we only talk about ‘pay back the money’. We only talk about it when Zuma is in Parliament, but when he is not there, we speak about other important issues. But abamameli [they do no listen], because they only look for negativity. Open your ears, find a toilet paper and clean those ears inside then you will hear EFF talking about everything. But when that crook comes into Parliament, we put everything aside.”
Talking about Zuma’s next appearance in Parliament in April, Malema said: “I want to warn him, he must not come with an explanation. He must come with a date, a time and method of payment. Is he going to use EFT, Shoprite cash facility or pay cash. That is the only thing we are going to listen to when he does come there.”