EFF president Julius Malema. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters.
EFF leaders of Indian descent have closed ranks around their commander-in-chief and party after the ANC accused it of being racist for continuously targeting Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

EFF national executive committee member and former MP, Dr Younus Vawda and secretary-general Godrich Gardee this week strongly disagreed that they were racists and said the party was home to all who shared in its values.

On Wednesday Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu digressed from his speech in the National Assembly to defend Gordhan who had been publicly hammered by the EFF for his role in the establishment of a “rogue” unit in the SA Revenue Services (Sars).

Mthembu lashed out at the EFF saying they had kept the pressure on Gordhan because of “deep-seated hatred for our Indian compatriots”.

EFF MPs responded by heckling Mthembu who retorted: “Of course you are racist. You are.”

Gardee told the Sunday Tribune that Mthembu was singing for his supper and had “acted like the house * ****r who had to beat other slaves into line”. He detailed Gordhan’s transgressions which also included the approval of an early pension and pension payout for former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay when Gordhan was the minister of finance.

“That is criminality. If that was not his friend would he have approved?” Gardee said the “rogue” unit had conducted illegal activities including surveillance for which it had “no permission”.

That, said Gardee, was not proof that the EFF or Julius Malema was racist because they also spoke out against Africans involved in criminal conduct.

“I think the guy (Mthembu) stooped so low below the belt. He couldn’t fight back. He has the mind of a rat and a lack of creativity and thinking capacity.”

Gardee said Africans, by their nature could not be racist. “Tell me of a country where Africans oppress another race.” He also called on Indians to see themselves as part of the African community because they did not have roots in India. “They can’t even go back,” he said.

Mthembu’s spokesperson Nonceba Mhlauli said the minister no longer wanted to be drawn on the matter.

“The minister has expressed his views on the matter and his views are in the public domain,” she said.

Vawda said the office of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane had issued a directive related to Gordhan’s activities which they supported.

“While the directive is still in place we respect it because it is about a state institution.”

Mkwebane had ordered President Cyril Ramaphosa to take disciplinary action against Gordhan regarding the Pillay matter to avert a constitutional crisis.

The president said he would wait for the outcome of Gordhan’s review application. Yesterday Vawda said he was concerned by the increasing economic polarisation of communities based on racial grounds. However, what was deemed racist by one person was very different from what another deemed racist. He said even though he was Indian he had always been treated with the utmost respect by everyone in the EFF and his relationship with Julius Malema was sound. “I can confidently say that he likes me, in fact he has a fondness for me. We get on very well.” He said Malema was a good man who sometimes came across “wrongly”.

Political analyst Professor Bheki Mngomezulu said the EFF could be viewed as racist or not depending on one’s point of view. He said the party had a “certain” vocabulary” which it used against those it targeted. He said Gordhan was viewed as a “constitutional delinquent” by the EFF who had used the same term to describe presidents Cyril Ramaphosa and Jacob Zuma. On the other hand Malema’s anti-Indian slurs and even “Kill the Boer” chants were well-known and smacked of racism,” said Mngomezulu.

Sunday Tribune