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Black professionals can learn from Julius Malema’s utterances

By Backyard Online

EFF ground forces. Parktown, Johannesburg 2018. PIC: Mdu Ndzingi

The Economic Freedom Fighters, last week Friday, found itself in hot waters, again, after its leader Julius Malema, in front of a full crowd of EFF supporters and the media, lambasted and shamed black lawyers for being incompetent. The EFF leader held nothing back, in a desperate attempt to defend his and former EFF’s spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi’s decision to use an all white counsel, in a case where the pair is charged with assaulting an Afrikaner and former Apartheid policeman, Johannes Venter, who was on duty and stationed at the Fourways Memorial Park, during Winnie Mandela’s funeral in April last year.

The leader, who is well known for his venomous utterances, assured his supporters that Adv. Laurence Hodes; for those who don’t know, he was Glenn Aggliotti’s advocate back in 2005, in a case where the latter was charged with planning the murder of his friend, Brett Kebble; has been with him for a very long time. “He doesn’t start to represent me now, he has represented me before, and he will represent me any-time-I-want-him-to-represent-me”, he said to a cheering crowd.

Then in a typical Malema style, he turned his attention to former Radio 702 presenter, Eusebius McKaiser, who had, just the previous day, posted an unsolicited sarcastic opinion on Twitter, about the choice of the EFF’s counsel, stating “When it comes to choosing legal representation, Julius Malema and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi temporarily do not see colour, just inner beauty and merit and so on and so forth and stuff like that.”

Playing to the crowd that was already salivating in anticipation of his wit, Malema retorted vehemently, choosing his words carefully, “No fool can tell me which lawyer must represent me. Not even an expired 702 journalist, which was rejected by the most racist station, 702, can tell us what we need to do with our lives. Never listen to the doomsayers.”

 “…these are the same people who predict the death of the EFF when they wake up every morning. These are the same people, when they want to send CV’s to government, when they want to send CV’s to Oppenheimer, they write bad about the EFF.”

This was not the first time that Julius Malema accused journalists of being two faced, so to speak. He has repeatedly called them “politicians who masquerade as journalists”. In the 26 October EFF statement following the third central command team (CCT) meeting, he said journalists “canvass for jobs within the State by writing negatively about opposition parties, particularly the EFF”.

And unfortunately it’s indisputable that some black journalists have left mainstream media to become spokespersons of State entities.

The question that should be asked is what can the industry do to keep good journalists and avoid this myopic ambition to occupy government positions?

Meanwhile, we can’t blame the EFF for calling this behaviour as they see it, “a blatant threat to the media independence and impartiality”.

EFF ground forces outside the Boksburg Prison. 2017. PIC: Mdu Ndzingi

What is clear about the EFF leader is that, even though he is a very ambitious man and will stop at nothing to get what he wants; contrary to popular belief, he seems not very interested in populism. He has long ago stopped caring about what people think of him. What matters to him is that his vision is clear – he moves at his own pace and with those who are willing to tag along, leaving behind anyone who still allows themselves to be pulled this way and that, like “an amoeba”. Indeed his best quality is his ability to call out any form of mediocrity, in the full glare of the public, no matter where it comes from; no matter the skin colour; no matter the gender, and no matter the creed.

To his followers that had gathered around the EFF truck outside the Randburg Magistrate Court; this is what he said, “Ian Levitt attorneys are attorneys of record. They are paid every month to represent the EFF everywhere.”  Then, as if to add salt to the wound of the so called ‘doomsayers’, he finished the sentence off by adding “and they’ve done it so well”.

But the vociferous leader did not stop there; he continued to justify the EFF’s decision, only this time, by exposing the mediocrity of black attorneys, “When we were losing cases with black lawyers, failing to submit the simplest thing like a one page. And then we must use the same services, lose cases so that we can be projected as the most disorganized organisation with no direction.”

Honestly though; what would those who blame him do in his position?

Are they saying that as the leader of the third largest political organisation in the country; Julius Malema must just fold his arms, all in the name of black loyalty, and allow incompetent black lawyers to continue to lose important cases on simple matters of technicality, while on the other hand, his detractors, who use well qualified, well experienced and professional attorneys, claim easy victories?

 “To hell with all of you”, his anger was clearly justified, especially as it was directed at those he called ‘doomsayers’ who simply want to see his party succumb to the consistent and unwarranted attacks from the likes of Afriforum and the rest of the Afrikaner bullies.

If truth be told; blacks in South Africa should count themselves very lucky to have someone like Julius Malema, who has dedicated his life to fighting for the dignity of black people; and if it means acquiring the services of an experienced white law firm in order to get that done, so be it; and indeed “to hell” with anyone who sees this as being hypocritical.

The fact is, if it had not been for Julius and his unrelenting zeal and dedication to defend black dignity, the boers in Senekal, and possibly throughout the country, would still think it’s acceptable to threaten the judiciary in the manner that they did; shooting live ammunition in the corridors of the court with little or no regard for the lives of the people who work there.

In his usual commanding voice he vowed that losing simple cases would be a thing of the past. He even managed to force a little chuckle out of his white lawyers when he pointed out the unrealistic expectations from the so called ‘doomsayers’, “…vonyo vonyo Malema hates white people. When Malema uses white people, haa, Malema uses white people. You can go to hell”, an angry Julius opined.

Of course what followed was an unnecessary barrage of misinformed negative sentiments from Twitter users who obviously felt touched ‘in their studios’ by the CIC’s remarks. Many reiterated the view that he is nothing but a hypocrite who pretends to hate white people only when it suits him, while some called on the Black Lawyers Association (BLA) to file a formal complaint to have him removed from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) where he sits in terms of section 178(h), as one of six persons designated by the National Assembly.

However what made things worse was an attempt from Advocate Dali Mpofu, a former top six member of the EFF, to defend his leader’s usual rants. In fact, what he really managed to do was to expose his bias by defending the indefensible. Just like he said about journalists who “canvass for jobs within the State”, Julius didn’t lie about black lawyers who “fail to submit the simplest thing like a one page”, and Dali didn’t have to defend that.

But being one of only two practicing advocates, who sits in the JSC in terms of section 178(1)(e), perhaps he was trying to just add his weight, and by so doing, tried too hard to justify the attack on black lawyers by contradicting the EFF President. In the four points which he outlined as “facts”, he first pointed out that “it’s wrong for EFF, ANC Govt or SOEs to use white lawyers when black lawyers are available”.

Then, in what appeared like a desperate attempt to dispel all doubt from the Twittermantarians, to borrow from Mister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, he said he (Julius), “did NOT say & doesn’t believe ALL black lawyers are incompetent. EFF advocates are BLACK. EFF lost MORE cases since it started using WHITE attorneys!”

Although that’s debatable, supposedly, as the former leader of the organisation himself, he would know the internal affairs of the party; however, this attempt at defending his leader and comrade only sparked more outrage and people called him out. Some went as far as insinuating that there is no person in the EFF that is willing to stand up to Julius. @MadiggaKM posted,  “…not even a single person ku EFF who has guts to tell Malema to apologize for his misguided statement? This type of sanitizing is not good, it will make Malema feel infallible and hence not able to learn from mistakes.”

EFF ground forces. Parktown, Johannesburg 2018. PIC: Mdu Ndzingi

Again, Dali came to his leader’s defense. “The narrative of Malema as some kind of “dictator” is pure HALLUCINATION sponsored by media & EFF haters. The FACT is when I was in the leadership he lost many important arguments inside the EFF, like all of us…I’m SURE it’s still the same now. NO human being is “infallible”!!

Finally, whether Julius is “infallible” or not, it’s obvious that black professionals should start learning from his approach and pay attention to individual roles as members of society. Perhaps each individual needs to start calling out mediocrity in their respective industries. It should not be that, as the youth and the future leaders of a country, black South Africans are content with useless, ill disciplined and unprofessional black attorneys. This would be detrimental to the future of our children and it would undo all that has been achieved by our predecessors.

We should also not be content with the media that outsources its role of watchdog to opportunistic organisations like Afriforum, which have only a single agenda to advance. Journalists need to bring back the spirit of activism within their sector. The media remains the only sector which is entrusted with the role of speaking truth to power; it would be a devastating and huge disservice if this generation of journalists were to allow such autonomy to be threatened.

The case has been postponed to March 2021. We will have to wait to hear what the leader of the third largest party in the country will say when he is called to take the stand.

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