No urgency in government to deal with EFF’s rampage

The general election is creeping closer, exactly two months away. But for the EFF it’s been just another mundane week in politics, dispensing the usual menace and mayhem.

On Tuesday, EFF leader Julius Malema “exposes” Karima Brown, an eNCA journalist, as a likely “intelligence operative”, spying on his party. He releases her cell number on social media, knowing what will happen next.

The EFF rabble do not disappoint Das Führer. They unleash a barrage of filthy abuse, calling her “an Indian whore and bitch”, and make pornographically explicit threats of assault, torture, rape, and murder. There is no word of disapproval from the EFF leadership.

Almost 24 hours later, the EFF commander-in-chief, as Malema pretentiously styles himself, breaks his silence. Radiating innocence, Malema says that people who threaten violence should be jailed, even if they are EFF members, which he – squinting earnestly at the TV cameras – very much doubts.

It’s vintage Malema. Slip the leash from the hounds of hell and, once they have done their worst, express bafflement and fake contrition.

Despite the media frenzy about Brown, none of this is new. It happens repeatedly and endlessly. The EFF’s bullying is South Africa’s own non-cinematic version of Groundhog Day.

On Monday, prior to the Brown incident, the Free State High Court interdicted six EFF councillors from assaulting a municipal manager, disrupting job interviews and throwing dangerous objects at the other councillors. The municipal manager, Solomon Mashiane, was on sick leave after allegedly being assaulted and his laptop smashed.

Criminal charges had been laid, but if past history is any indicator, nothing is likely to come of these. Only Volksblad reported the matter and News24 didn’t even bother to translate the report into English for their website.

Here lies the nub of the problem. It’s not just that the EFF’s fascist thugs threaten us with beatings, rape and genocide.

That is the nature of the EFF beast. The real problem is that the EFF has been rampaging with impunity. There is not a single state institution – not the police, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), Parliament, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), nor the ANC government itself – that has been willing to act to stop the EFF’s undemocratic and illegal behaviour.

According to Daily Maverick, in the past year there have been at least 10 attacks by the EFF on journalists. None has got to court and, in a number of incidents, the police have not yet bothered to take witness statements.

Last year, the SA National Editor’s Forum (Sanef) approached the Equality Court for an interdict ordering the EFF to refrain from inciting violence against journalists, as well as “hate speech” intended to intimidate. The court, intended to be the fast-track way of dealing with threats to human rights, has only just decided which judge will hear the application. No urgency here.

The SAHRC has been characteristically spineless. There have been scores of formal complaints against the EFF and its leader, some dating back three years, but with no apparent progress. No urgency. No transparency either.

Brown says she intends complaining to the IEC.

“We need to ask the IEC how such a party can be on the ballot box How is such a party allowed to be part of a constitutional democracy? That’s the fundamental question.”

Brown’s “fundamental question” certainly deserves to be addressed, but it is a pity that it has taken so long for the media to ask it. We should not gloss over the fact that the sudden uptick in media criticism of the EFF corresponds with the EFF escalating its attacks on journalists.

When, in the past, the EFF flirted with white genocide and the extermination of farmers, there were no urgent demands from the media for police, parliamentary, IEC or government intervention. Aside from some half-hearted disapproving clucking, the media did pretty much nothing.

In South Africa the media, the “watchdog” of democracy, seems to growl only when its own tail is stepped upon. As journalists, we should be ashamed of our profession.

* William Saunderson-Meyer writes a weekly syndicated column. He is @TheJaundicedEye on Twitter.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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