Durban - Several videos of the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema pushing the party’s spokesperson, Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, around has ignited a debate about the politician’s temper and perceived bullying tendencies.
As expected, the nation is divided about whether his behavior is befitting that of a leader and family man. We look at the many times Malema publicly displayed abusive behaviour in public. His alleged abusive behavior can be traced back to 2001 while he was a member of the South African Students Congress, through to his years with the ANC and now with his own party.
Walking out during address by Jackson Mthembu
In a video that went viral in 2015, a young Malema is seen telling minister Jackson Mthembu (who was a senior ANC member at that time) to get lost. The video is believed to have been taken in 2001 during a heated meeting between the ANC and SASCO. It was not clear what sparked the response but in the video he defies Mthembu’s plea for order and to sit down. He also refused to budge even when asked by some people who pleaded with him to sit down.
His abusive behavior would later show up in April 2010 when he verbally abused a Johannesburg based journalist of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Jonah Fisher. Malema called him a "bastard", "bloody agent" and "small boy" after Fisher kept on interrupting him when he spoke about his trip to Zimbabwe and praised ZANU-PF of Mugabe while ridiculing the opposition as people living in Sandton. Fisher was eventually thrown out of the press conference. At that time Malema was the president of the ANC youth league.
Spat with Karima Brown
Showing bully tendencies again, in March this year Malema butted heads with political journalist Karima Brown after the latter’s newsroom brief to eNCA reporters covering an EFF breakfast with the elders was mistakenly sent to the wrong social media group. Malema viewed it as an attack on his party. He later published the cellphone details of Brown which led to her receiving death threats from alleged members of the EFF. He accused Brown of having a political agenda and labelled her a politician disguised as a journalist.
The many times Mbuyiseni Ndlozi has been publicly embarrassed by Malema
In a video that appears to have been taken by a reporter of EWN, Malema’s abusive behavior is seen at a rally (it is not clear where and when), shouting a Ndlozi, seemingly telling him to manage journalists who were taking pictures of him while greeting EFF supporters. The journalist were blocking his way. In the latest incident, Malema is seen in viral video roughly tapping Ndlozi on the shoulder, apparently alerting him that he was moving around the stadium to greet EFF supporters and expected him to join the leadership as well. This has left the nation divided on whether it was the right way to tell Ndlozi to join him or not.
And it seems he is not the only one in the party’s leadership to have publicly displayed abusive behavior.
His deputy, Floyd Shivambu in 2010, while he was the spokesperson of the ANC youth league under the stewardship of Malema, called journalist Carien Du Plessis a “white bitch". This was after Du Plessis pressed him for a comment on a youth league matter. Shivambu later apologised and the matter later settled before the Johannesburg Equality Court.
In March last year he manhandled Netwerk 24's journalist, Adrian de Kock who was taking a picture of him with a female within the precinct of the national assembly in Cape Town. The incident was caught on video and it went viral when it was leaked to the public. Again, he later apologised for the incident, saying he regretted it.