We also noted with equal concern the professionally made banners with printed slogans brandished by supporters of the EFF party during its launch in Marikana, including messages such as “Honeymoon is over for whites”, “To be a revolutionary you have to be inspired by hatred and bloodshed” and “A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate.” Although the EFF party has meanwhile indicated that these banners were not sanctioned by the party, these slogans clearly illustrate the mindset invoked and message -­ whether directly or indirectly -­ conveyed by Malema to his followers, thus moving supporters to take “own initiative” to that extent.

Section 19 of the Constitution allows for every citizen, including Malema and his supporters to make political choices, to form a political party and to participate in the activities of such a political party. Section 18 of the Constitution, in turn, determines that everyone, including Malema and his supporters have the right to freedom of expression. This right, however, does not extend to incitement of violence, or advocacy of hatred that is based on, among others, race and ethnicity, and that constitute incitement to cause harm to any part of society.

Our multi-­party constitutional democracy was founded upon the values of human dignity, the achievement of equality, the advancement of human rights and freedoms, non-­ racialism, non-­sexism, the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law. Nonetheless, we certainly still face many and persistent inequalities in our country which have to be remedied. This, however, must be done in context of the Constitution.

Malema’s and the EFF’s statements are, however, apart from threatening white South Africans without exception, also threatening the founding constitutional values which underlie our resolve as South Africans to reconcile as a nation and to build a united, equal and non-­racial society. These messages and their underlying tone go beyond the realm of addressing political views in line with our constitutional values. They are promoting racial animosity and are arguably bordering on intimidation and on incitement of violence. Moreover, Malema’s assertion that neither the messages nor the organisation are “racist” is in stark contrast with his and his organisation’s public posture and utterances. Although Malema and the EFF party have a right, like all other political parties, to participate in our multi-­party democracy, these kinds of messages are unacceptable and should not be tolerated by a society subscribed to our constitutional values -­ including not by political parties hoping to benefit from the EFF’s attacks on the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

By Adv Johan Kruger, Director: Centre for Constitutional Rights

Photo credit: afp photo / alexander joe