Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema lambasted members of the media for forming part of what he called the “Ramaphosa Defence Force” outside the Zondo commission on Tuesday.
Malema addressed a crowd of about a hundred EFF supporters, wearing the party colours, outside the venue of the commission of inquiry into state capture, where moments before Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan concluded the second day of his testimony.
During his address, Malema called out members of the media for seemingly championing the agendas of Gordhan and President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Malema named seven prominent journalists and commentators as being complicit in this campaign, saying that the party needs to “deal with them decisively”.
He compared the journalists to Bell Pottinger, the British PR firm which came under fire in 2017 for allegedly spreading misinformation and stoking racial tensions on behalf of the controversial Gupta family.
Two of the journalists mentioned by Malema had been covering the commission on Tuesday.
One of them stood on the sidelines as Malema spoke.
“These people I am mentioning by name, you must engage with in a civilised manner and not violently. Violence is for those who are empty in the head, the EFF thrives on superior logic,” Malema said.
Malema drew attention to the fact that the commission is being held at the same offices that house Tiso Blackstar, which he suggested employs his detractors in the media. He suggested that the media company — which produces the Sunday Times and the Financial Mail — contributed money to Ramaphosa’s campaign for the ANC presidency.
Malema further criticised the media for failing to ask Ramaphosa and Gordhan about their business interests and other scandals. He suggested that the Sunday Times had played a central role in downplaying allegations of Ramaphosa’s infidelity which emerged during his campaign for the ANC presidency.
Last week, veteran journalist Thandeka Gqubule announced that she would give the EFF one week to prove allegations that she and Anton Harber were apartheid-era Stratcom spies, telling Radio 702 that she had obtained declassified documents proving otherwise.
The journalists, both of whom Malema did not name in his speech on Tuesday, have fielded allegations that they belonged to the apartheid-era propaganda network since a video of the late struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was published on HuffPost SA’s website.
In the recorded interview, Madikizela-Mandela says Gqubule was negatively disposed towards her. Madikizela-Mandela also called the Weekly Mail “anti-ANC and anti-me”. The newspaper — founded and edited by Harber — would later become the Mail & Guardian.
The EFF later released a statement admonishing Gqubule and Harber. The video was subsequently taken down.
The South African National Editors Forum is in the process of compiling a response to Malema’s speech on Tuesday.