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Assessing and promoting civil and minority rights in South Africa.

[Source: FW de Klerk Foundation by Zohra Dawood.]

The last few weeks have witnessed a time of politics by insult and grandiose displays of power, largely orchestrated by Julius Malema and his EFF colleagues. Many commentators and analysts have argued that the EFF have used these tactics to control the terms of the debate on State capture, corruption and kickbacks. With the Zondo and Nugent Commissions in full swing and investigative journalists laying bare that which broke VBS Bank, there appears to be wild flailing against civility, respectful dialogue and argument, and reasoned defence – if these exist.

Matters came to a head when Minister Pravin Gordhan testified at the Zondo Commission. This ignited a public and social media onslaught on the Minister and the Zondo Commission by the EFF. Malema’s reference to Gordhan as “a dog of white monopoly capital” and the addition that, “we must beat the dog until the owner comes out” are contemptible. It attacks a fundamental constitutional mechanism of our democracy contained in Chapter 2 of the Constitution, in respect of freedom of expression. While the right is far-reaching, it does not extend to propaganda for war; incitement of imminent violence and advocacy of hatred based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.

Minister Gordhan’s response on 26 November 2018 was to lay charges of crimen injuria and criminal defamation and he has asked police to investigate the matter of incitement to violence against Julius Malema. Minister Gordhan explained his reasons as follows, “I think what we’re saying to South Africans is that we can’t any longer allow the corruption that’s going at all levels in this country to be masked by racism, by personal attacks, by family attacks and of course political attacks as well. So, we have decided enough is enough. If you want to argue with us politically that’s fine but once you lie and you attack families, and you propagate these lies widely enough, but you also start dividing South African society then it is totally unacceptable. Because race is a very inflammable factor in South Africa.”

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South Africa at a Glance
57 700 000 (mid 2018 estimate)
5.1% y/y in October 2018 (CPI) & +6.9 y/y in October 2018 (PPI)
2.2% q/q (3rd quarter of 2018)
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