ANC Youth League president, Collen Maine. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi
Durban – ANC Youth League president Collen Maine may be in trouble with the law as two civil rights organisations have lodged a complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) against him for calling Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan an “impimpi” (spy) for monopoly capital.

Maine made the “life-threatening” statement when he addressed hundreds of members at the league’s KwaZulu-Natal conference in Durban on February 24.

“Who is this person (Gordhan) representing? Is he the minister from the ANC or is he representing something else?"

“You know previously we use to call people izimpimpi, and now we want to sugar coat it. Certain things were done to izimpimpi in the past, before 1994,” said Maine, referring to how people who were believed to be spies for the apartheid government were necklaced with a burning tyre.

“Something must be done to this comrade,” he said.

The minister of finance, Pravin Gordhan. Picture: David Ritchie

The Active Citizens’ Movement (ACM) and Johannesburg Against Injustice (JAI) have not taken kindly to his utterances. They said they were a threat to Gordhan.

ACM interim committee member Professor Yousuf Vawda said he had no other option but to report Maine to the SAHRC. He said during apartheid, a person who was referred to as impimpi was “a very hated person as a person who was a spy and betraying the struggle”.

“He also said ‘you know what we did to them (spies)’. It is clear that what was done to them was to necklace them. That was a gross violation of somebody’s human rights. We believe the utterances constituted hate speech, violence and they should be investigated.”

JAI spokesperson Dr Riedwaan Pillay, said his organisation and ACM had to intervene because they believed in “the protection of citizens and advancement of the constitution”.

“In this case, the extent of the physical threat to a minister in the cabinet was of sufficient magnitude to warrant a response,” he said.

Pillay said although Maine and Gordhan were ANC members, “this is certainly not an internal ANC matter”.

“It is a violation of the constitution which is a broader societal matter. As active citizens, we have every right to address a matter that violates the constitution as this does.”

When contacted to respond to the allegations against him, Maine said he was waiting for the SAHRC to contact him.

However, he denied he had referred to Gordhan as impimpi. “I was addressing something of impimpis and later I mentioned his name,” said Maine.

During the congress, Maine attacked Gordhan for delivering a Budget speech which, he said, was in sharp contrast to President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address, which “among many things speaks about the state playing a role in transforming the economy of South Africa”.

He said the speech reflected the neo-liberal agenda, which was hostile towards the poor and business-friendly and “keeps the state away from strategic sectors of the economy”.

An SAHRC spokesperson did not respond to questions from the Daily News at the time of publishing.

Daily News