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Julius Malema and the Mkhwebane/Manyi EFF enlargement — will the host party accept the transplants?

Julius Malema and the Mkhwebane/Manyi EFF enlargement — will the host party accept the transplants?
From left: Mzwanele Manyi. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Felix Dlangamandla) | EFF leader Julius Malema. (Photo: Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle) | Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

The decision by EFF leader Julius Malema to appoint the removed Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane as an MP, along with the introduction of another high-profile new member, poses some interesting questions about the party’s internal dynamics. At the same time, Malema’s comments about a magistrate are so obviously untrue that he could find himself in a difficult position.

Mzwanele Manyi and Busisiwe Mkhwebane made their reputations outside the Julius Malema & Floyd Shivambu orbit, arguably the first such arrivals to the EFF who are not called Dali Mpofu. 

While there are many elements to consider with regard to the EFF, the most important is voter support. And the spread of predictions of the votes it will receive in the general election next year is wide. In a column in the Sunday Times, Peter Bruce cited one poll suggesting the EFF would get 17% and another predicting it would win just 9%.

So, either the EFF has unstoppable momentum or it is about to lose significant power and most of its influence. It is on this difficult ground that much analysis about the party must rest — it is impossible to know if its support base is growing or shrinking.

Mkhwebane’s decision to join the EFF and the introduction of Manyi point to an important shift in the party’s internal dynamics.

As both Mkhwebane and Manyi are now MPs, Malema will feel obliged for them to have high-profile roles in the EFF. 

However, along with the name recognition they bring, come possible problems. 

The first is that both may feel that they are not dependent on Malema. While they clearly need him at the moment, they had high-profile careers before joining the party. This makes them different from the vast majority of leaders in the EFF and possibly almost all of the party’s members. They may not always agree to accept Malema’s edicts.

Both Manyi and Mkhwebane have significant baggage after supporting former president Jacob Zuma and his agenda. This baggage is now resting with the EFF.

Both have also shown that they can change their personal direction very quickly.

Manyi was first tied to Zuma and the Guptas and has now jumped ship to the EFF (presumably because he believes that Zuma no longer has political power, or understands they are on the same team).

Mkhwebane made a finding that Parliament must change the constitutional mandate of the Reserve Bank, and then, when it was challenged in court, abandoned that finding.

This shows that she too can cut and run when the going gets tough, and Malema may well find it difficult to rely on one or both when they speak in Parliament. They could express strongly held views that conflict with his on certain matters (such as the Middle East, for example).

In addition, a large group in the EFF are likely to be feeling aggrieved because people they support have lost their positions as councillors, members of provincial legislatures or MPs, which could mean turmoil for the party, although it’s unlikely to become public.

Malema mouths off

Malema is facing public censure for his comments last week about the magistrate hearing the case in which he is charged with firing a gun illegally in East London five years ago.

Last week, the magistrate, Twanet Olivier, ruled that the case against Malema must continue and dismissed his discharge application which argued that he had no case to answer.

Immediately afterwards, Malema told supporters outside the court that Olivier was an “incompetent magistrate who comes late to court, can’t get her papers in order, can’t read her judgments and adjourns the court while delivering those judgments to take a back seat and receive calls from Pravin Gordhan, President Cyril Ramaphosa and Shamila Batohi.”

He has not provided any evidence for his claims. And while it may well be within the bounds of freedom of political speech to make certain claims, it is almost certain that he was lying.

Certainly, he has given no evidence to show that Gordhan, Ramaphosa or Batohi have had any influence on the case.

As Judges Matter points out, this will have a huge impact on judges.

His statement was clearly designed to intimidate Olivier, and presumably, other members of the judiciary as well.

It’s part of a long-running campaign in which he has claimed, again without evidence, that judges are influenced by Ramaphosa and other ANC politicians.

This is despite the fact that he and Shivambu have received findings in their favour. Malema and former EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi were cleared of assaulting a police officer despite video evidence of what the law has previously defined as assault.

Shivambu was also cleared of assault after pushing a News24 photographer against a wall in the parliamentary precinct.

This has led to speculation about the EFF’s relationship with the law.

But one of the strange aspects of this most recent case is that while the magistrate ruled Malema has a case to answer, he will probably be acquitted of illegally discharging a firearm (this is because it is still not known who took the video, leading to chain-of-evidence issues, and none of Malema’s bodyguards on the day can remember him firing a gun).

This means that if he is acquitted, some voters may feel that it was only because he intimidated the magistrate.  

Truth and lies

Also, it is entirely possible that Gordhan, Ramaphosa or Batohi could sue him for defamation (the magistrate, bound by judicial ethics, cannot).

As former finance minister Trevor Manuel and former tourism minister Derek Hanekom have shown, defamation actions can lead to proper findings about truth and lies.

And a court action is likely to reveal that Malema lied last week (unless, of course, evidence of his claim magically comes to light).

However, it should not be presumed that any of this was accidental.

Malema has spent much time and energy focusing on the judiciary, including being a member of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

In that position, he appeared to have an influence on the JSC’s debates and decisions (along with other commissioners, including Mpofu). 

This latest claim is part of a deliberate, calculated campaign to undermine the judiciary.

Of course, the next question is, what impact will this have on public perceptions of the judiciary?

This may well depend on the outcome of next year’s elections, which is also partially dependent on the party’s internal dynamics.

For the moment, it is impossible to tell whether the EFF will win 17% of the vote, or just 9%, and thus what long-term impact Malema’s comments about the judiciary will actually have. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Ben Harper says:

    Well she’s an incompetent liar so she’ll fit right in

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Ha ha – even in the unlikely event it functioned at all, the idea of Mkhwebane as an organ in my body literally terrifies me.

    Would I be overcome with useless? Or experience a sudden desire to lie pathologically? Or maybe to sue some random innocent with no basis at all? Or worse yet – hire Mpofu as my lawyer?

    The mind boggles.

    • Steve Davidson says:

      But now she’s an MP (what a thought) can the DA use parliamentary privilege to drag her crooked butt through the mire she created every time she’s in the House? Wouldn’t that be a great revenge on this traitorous witch!

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    He has apes Mussolini and Hitler so it’s no surprise he tries Trump’s tactic of attacking the judiciary.

  • Grumpy Old Man says:

    Stephen, I believe the disparity in poll predictions so far as the EFF is concerned revolves around predicted voter turn out. This is why Julius made a point of saying to the Youth that if they don’t register to vote they are sell outs!
    I also think that so long as Julius is at the helm the EFF will continue to be a significant player in our landscape. He attracts the support he does because of his perceived strength & his ability to do & say what he pleases. Right here, right now & to a lot of people his disregard for the institutions that hold us together by a thread – that is considered true power.
    The biggest threat to the EFF is a Palace Revolt from within. It’s not coincidence that following their Birthday Celebrations (& with his veiled warning to Floyd) that he purged so many of the regional member leadership. The message is clear – I am in charge, I am the EFF & I do what I want!
    The question that possibly needs to be asked is how long can Julius can hold it together before he is toppled from within or the party fractures. I think maybe, for the time being (up until next year’s elections at least) the EFF will hold things together – thereafter I am not so sure

    • Bosman Puren says:

      Fully agree. I do think the EFF will grow in next year’s election but with growth comes more power and the knives will be out. Theres no honour amongst thieves.

  • NICK GREENE says:

    Simple way to keep Malema under some control is for Magistrate Olivier to find him in contempt and impose an immediate custodial sentence – as would happen to any member of society who vents against the Judiciary. Orange will be the new red!

  • Confucious Says says:

    What was her success rate as the Public Poepol? 1:60? Perhaps she’s also good at woodwork?

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    Like transplanting in organs harvested from donors with ebola. Hope it spreads fast and makes them all spring a leak.

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    The EFF has been very strategic in getting people who have a varied experience you can argue with that and we can argue the same with all political parties. The ANC is going to lose kwaMhlanga because irrespective of the views of Stephen Grootes and the ANC, they hold her in high respects there as one has taken note. Manyi is a very good public speaker and has a lot of wealth of knowledge in the private sector with his stint as President of the Black Management Forum. He is bringing that wealth already in parliament you may agree or disagree with him but that is a fact. To call them implants when the DA does it with regularity is journalistic dishonesty. They fit very well within the EFF. The DA has had a lot of implants who have left the party and we did not hear this drivel from Stephen Grootes.
    On the question of the incompetence of the magistrate he was correct to call the nonsense out. Stephen Grootes has just to go to Protea magistrates court that is littered with incompetence and one can say that without fear of contradiction. As a presiding officer you need to be early in court and not to abuse the public as well as the issue of the judgement that he raised which she left in her office. I wonder if she was a black magistrate what would Stephen say. We must not defend nonsense even if it is done by judicial officers. That she was calling Ramaphosa we would certainly say that there is no proof of that but all others are true.

  • Con Tester says:

    The EFF is little more than a personality cult with Pope Julius at its head, wielding autocracy like a katana in the hands of a seasoned Ronin.

    One may hope that Busizuma Mkhwegupta and Mwazuma Mangy will challenge their commander to the extent that this sleazy alliance drowns in its own ignominy.

    • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

      The same as the DA with Helen Zille the Queen of the DA. That she is a liability to that party she is going to learn it very well next year. Malema is an asset to the EFF a and you may disagree with him but you will not take that away from him.

      • Con Tester says:

        LOL, claiming that the DA, the country’s most culturally- and racially diverse political party and also the official opposition, is a personality cult anywhere near the pathological one that permeates the EFF, betrays a vacuous grasp of the facts, variously a pitiful desperation.

      • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

        A cunning stunt indeed.

  • Rae Earl says:

    Malema is the BOSS. All the party members from Floyd Shivambo down are merely pawns who have dance to whatever tune Malema plays. Mkhwebane and Manyi probably think they come to the EFF as favoured elites but they have some hard lessons coming if they cross swords with a ruthless dicatotor like Julius Malema. If an ANC/EFF coalition emerges in next year’s elections, the ANC NEC members too, will soon be sitting on the pavement and blinking in the sun while wondering what the hell happened.

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