The EFF leader says the media isn’t doing enough to ‘counter the rhetoric’ because ‘there is no case of any white person killed because we want land’.
Speaking at the EFF’s memorial service for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in Brandfort on Wednesday afternoon, EFF leader Julius Malema took the opportunity to further clarify his statements about land expropriation without compensation.
He has been the subject of much criticism, both at home and abroad, since many have taken his comments and the plans of his party to change the Constitution to mean that he is anti-white and only wishes to take back land from white landowners.
The EFF’s stated policy on land, however, is wholesale nationalisation: that all privately owned land should be transferred to the control of the state, which will then determine who gets to use it and for what. The ANC has said it finds this proposal problematic and said last month that while it favoured expropriation, they differed on the “modalities” of its implementation.
Malema nevertheless targeted “whiteness” last month and set out to punish the DA’s white mayor in Nelson Mandela Bay over the party’s rejection in parliament of land expropriation without compensation.
Last week, however, Malea made an apparent U-turn, saying that South Africa would be a “boring country” without white people and he would hate to see them go.
Addressing scores of EFF supporters outside the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Friday, he was keen to repudiate the growing perception that he is inciting a “white genocide”.
He faces charges of contravening the Riotous Assemblies Act for urging people to occupy any unoccupied land of their choice. Civil rights group AfriForum initially laid the charges against Malema following his calls for land invasions during the party’s 2014 elective conference in Bloemfontein.
The matter has again been postponed to July 27, pending the outcome of Malema’s application challenging the constitutionality of the Act, which is to be heard before the High Court in Pretoria on April 23.
And though Malema has stuck to his guns regarding land invasions and expropriation, he also struck a reconciliatory tone, saying there was “no need for whites to be scared” since the EFF manifesto did not say white people should be driven out of the country.
“South Africa would be a boring country without white people. We complement one another. They have naturalised here. It means they are like the trees and the mountains. Can you imagine one day you wake up and there are no trees? That will not be the South Africa we know. We want to live with them. We want them to excel, not because they are white, but because they have a particular skill,” he said.
“We are not killing anyone,” Malema said. “We are not creating genocide. What we want is to occupy the unoccupied land, as a demonstration of our seriousness to return land into the hands of the landless masses of our people.
“For that, I am prepared to go to prison. They can lock me up for having said the poor must have a roof over their heads and have a place called home,” he said to the cheering supporters.
He continued this theme on Wednesday, saying: “There is no white person that has been forced out of their property, not even by the EFF. All we have done is to occupy land that was unoccupied while we wait for the fertile lands to be given back to us.”
He alleged that the media was being irresponsible in its reports on his views, as well as how they reported on farm murders in general. He denied that any “white genocide” is currently happening in the country, because farm murders are not about the land, in his view.
“I am worried about how the journalists report on the land. They are not countering the rhetoric that there is a white genocide in South Africa – and yet there is no case in South Africa of any white person killed because we want land.”
AfriForum and other pro-Afrikaner bodies, however, strongly disagree with this view.