Julius Sello Malema (born 3 March 1981) is a South African politician and activist who is a Member of Parliament and the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Economic Freedom Fighters, a South African political party, which he founded in July 2013. He previously served as President of the African National Congress Youth League from 2008 to 2012. Julius Malema was also a member of the African National Congress (ANC) from the age of nine until his expulsion from the party in April 2012 at the age of thirty-one. Julius rose to prominence as a supporter of ANC president, and later President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma. He was described by both Zuma and the Premier of Limpopo Province, Cassel Mathale, as the “future leader” of South Africa. Less favourable portraits paint him as a “reckless populist” with the potential to destabilise South Africa and to spark racial conflict.
Malema was convicted of hate speech in March 2010[and again in September 2011. In November 2011, he was suspended from the ANC for five years for sowing divisions within the party. In 2011, he was again convicted of hate speech after singing “Dubul’ ibhunu” (“Shoot the Boer“), a decision upheld on appeal, leading to his expulsion from the ANC.
In 2012, Malema was charged with fraud, money-laundering and racketeering. After numerous postponements, the case was dismissed by the courts in 2015 due to excessive delays by the National Prosecuting Authority, leading to perceptions that the charges were politically motivated. However, Afrikaner rights group AfriForum announced in 2018 that it would mount a private prosecution of Malema on the corruption charges.
Malema stated at a political rally in 2016, “[the EFF] are not calling for the slaughter of white people‚ at least for now.” The Democratic Alliance and the group AfriForum criticised him for “violent and threatening language”, while the ANC declined to comment, saying “he was addressing his own party supporters.”
Malema stated at another political rally in 2018, “We are starting with this whiteness. We are cutting the throat of whiteness”, in the context of plans to remove DA-affiliated Athol Trollip from his position as mayor of Nelson Mandela Municipality. DA leader Mmusi Maimane labelled Malema’s words “racist attacks” and “racist hatred”, which he claimed “most people reject”.
Following the 2019 death of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe Malema tweeted a number of controversial quotes from the late Mugabe that were racially prejudiced towards white people. Most notable was the quote that “The only white man you can trust is a dead white man”. The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) condemned the quote and stated that they would be taking Malema to court for allegedly spreading hate speech.
During a 2022 Equality Court trial brought against him for hate speech by AfriForum, Malema stated that he could not rule out the possibility that, in future, he may call for the slaughter of white people, and explicitly refused to pledge that he would never do so.
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Read about the latest court case at Business Live