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Malema’s not a leader

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The EFF lunges recklessly for attention regardless of the consequences.

Julius Malema

IT HAS become something of a pattern now: When the EFF encounter a quiet patch, Julius Malema or one of his colleagues grab at controversy to secure the headlines.

Instead of dazzling the country with bold, new, workable initiatives when it is becalmed, the EFF lunges recklessly for attention regardless of the consequences.

So it was again on Youth Day in Klerksdorp when Malema assailed a sector of our citizenry. He called the majority of Indian people racist, asserted that most hated “Africans”, and argued that Indians had been better off than black Africans under apartheid.

He dwelt further on the attack: The majority of them looked down on Africans, and identified more with white people.

It was incendiary, stirring acrimony and legitimising prejudice when the country is trying to extract itself from a past of bigotry and build a semblance of nationhood.

This was pure rabble-rousing, something Malema and the EFF have become adept at. As of the election of 2014, they represent close to 1.2 million voters (6.3%). But with the divisiveness they promote, they cannot claim the title of true leaders.

Worthy public figures would not indulge in such inflammatory talk, spew out such bile and societal wedges. The hard-won freedom of speech that this country enjoys comes today at a relatively small price: Responsibility. The two are inseparable, desirable leaders would know this.

Apart from their dangerous nature, and another decided setback for South African relations, Malema’s hurtful remarks call for a retort from the English poet, William Blake: “To generalise is to be an idiot …” How he arrived at his sweeping statements is a wonder. He should be building bridges, not smashing them.

Such racism must be dealt with decisively. People will be looking to all political figures in this regard, perhaps even some of Malema’s more courageous colleagues. Bodies like the SA Human Rights Commission must act quickly and emphatically. Complaints should not even be necessary – any hesitation or delays would reflect poorly.

South Africa needs equal treatment here, many will no doubt be seeking it. This must be handled as forthrightly as other, infamous cases where people have disparaged fellow citizens and been punished for it. Some outstanding complaints against Malema and his cohorts must be completed too.

At this stage an apology, such as the one he issued years ago for a racist epithet aimed at Indian people, would simply not suffice.