Minority rights group takes on Malema – again

After reiterating his support for his deputy, Floyd Shivambu, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has received reproval from a minority rights group for his comments claiming the majority of Indians are racist.

Malema was addressing a crowd at an EFF Youth Day commemoration at Matlosana Stadium in Klerksdorp in North West, the politician said not all people of colour were treated the same under apartheid — accusing Indians of harbouring hate towards black people.

“We were not all oppressed the same. Indians had all sorts of resources Africans didn’t have, coloureds as well. The majority of Indians are racist. I’m not saying all, I’m saying [a] majority,” Malema said.

READ MORE: Malema continues to support Shivambu on Momoniat matter

Malema’s comments come in the wake of public outcry over Shivambu’s remarks against treasury’s deputy director-general Ismail Momoniat, who he accused of having a superiority complex which did not allow him to take orders from African seniors.

The EFF chief whip’s remarks — which he made during a meeting of the standing committee on finance in Parliament — received condemnation from several quarters, including the committee and later Momoniat’s employer, national treasury.

At the Youth Day rally, Malema defended Shivambu, saying: “If Momo fought in the struggle he would have understood what Floyd said. A revolutionary would have known that when he went into prison, when he went into exile — he would know he was fighting for black people [if was predominantly for African people].”

READ MORE: Parly finance committee condemns Shivambu over Momoniat outburst

Chairperson of the South African Minority Rights Equality Movement (Samrem) Daleep Lutchman told The Star the organisation is looking to open a third case against Malema for his remarks. Lutchman said they would meet to decide what charges to press against the EFF commander in chief for “going back to the apartheid system of classifying people by race”.

This is not the first time Malema has been in hot water over “anti-Indian” remarks.

During the party’s fourth anniversary celebrations in Durban in July last year, Malema said of Indian shop owners: “They are ill-treating our people. They are worse than Afrikaners were. This is not an anti-Indian statement‚ it’s the truth. Indians who own shops don’t pay our people‚ but they give them food parcels.”

After his 2017 remarks, the Minority Front — a party which lobbies for the protection of “disadvantaged minorities” — said they were consulting with the South African Human Rights Commission over Malema’s “frivolous utterances”.

LISTEN: What exactly did Shivambu say about Momoniat?

Minority Front Youth Association chair Jonathan Annipen told the Sunday Times at the time he thought Malema was “trying very hard to frustrate the democratic gains of social cohesion and nation building and is deepening the divide between blacks and Indians”.

On Monday, Annipen told the Mail & Guardian that the party finds that Malema’s statements “are void of any rationality and research”.

“He has a tendency of attacking South Africans of Indian origin, and somehow, is convinced that this small fraction of the South African population has the ability to disempower the large, and some may even say, out numbering majority,” Annipen said.

Annipen also called Malema “a political villain” who sows racial divisions in the hopes of gaining political power.

He said the Indian community and the party is “sending a clear warning to Mr Malema and his cronies in the EFF — leave our people alone!”

Samrem reportedly has two cases pending against Malema, both relating to his 2017 comments.

The organisation also went to battle against Malema back in 2011 after he used a racial epithet while referring to Indians. Malema, who was then still a member of the ANC Youth League, had met with the group to apologise and Samrem took back their threats of court action.

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Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

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