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Durban - Shortly after sharing a stage and leading a march in sympathy with the Marikana miners with Julius Malema, IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi has slammed the former ANC Youth League leader, saying he is stirring divisions in the country and threatening social cohesion.
In his online newsletter at the weekend, Buthelezi questioned the intentions of Malema’s party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), saying that given any power, the new party would reverse the country’s nation-building gains.
But the EFF hit back on Sunday, saying Buthelezi was just trying to be relevant by picking on the new party.
Buthelezi and Malema have had many public spats, which can be traced back to 2009 when the then-ANCYL leader threatened to campaign in the IFP leader’s backyard and recruit his wife and children for the ANC.
Buthelezi - who in the past has referred to the EFF leader as a one-man disinvestment campaign - wrote in his letter that Malema’s utterances were “terribly dangerous”.
“Given a platform, the EFF will reverse the gains we have made in nation-building and social cohesion. At a time like this, when South Africa faces such dire challenges of unemployment, poverty and corruption, stirring divisions is both easy and terribly dangerous,” Buthelezi wrote.
He was referring to some of the comments made by Malema last week during a march to the Union Buildings.
Addressing the march, Malema accused the ANC-led government of being “managers of white supremacy”. Buthelezi condemned this.
“This echoes his comments made in the past, for instance that whites are thieves, and his many attempts to polarise our country on the basis of race.
“This goes against everything we have tried to achieve in South Africa. When I hear Mr Malema’s message of racial polarisation, I think ‘God help us’ if he gains any power in 2014.”
Asked for comment on Sunday, EFF spokesman, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, said: “Of course he senses that his days in the political sphere of South Africa are numbered. And part of the worry is the desperation to stay relevant: picking on the EFF is therefore the natural choice for everyone who wants to be heard, seen and noticed.
“Our people know what we stand for and understand our message.”
Buthelezi and leaders of other political parties such as Cope’s Mosiuoa Lekota, the DA’s Mmusi Maimane, and the United Democratic Movement’s Bantu Holomisa had also been among those leading the march.
Thousands joined the march in response to the government’s refusal to fund the lawyers representing the victims of the Marikana massacre.
Buthelezi has accused Malema of trying to steal the thunder from other politicians, saying that during the march it became clear that Malema and his supporters were not willing to share a platform.
“When we all congregated to begin the march, the EFF broke ranks and sought the TV cameras, going on ahead in their red berets,” Buthelezi said.