Photo: IOL.

There is no love lost between embattled public enterprises minister, Pravin Gordhan and Julius Malema the leader of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). 

Although Malema occasionally supported Gordhan when he faced the axe under the leadership of former president Jacob Zuma recent comments by the leader of the red berets suggest that the relationship has now been irreparably damaged.

Equally comments by Gordhan also implies that he has a dislike for the party and its leadership, recently calling them a fascist party that should own up for stealing money from the now collapsed VBS. 

Where it all began, how it changed over the years and eventually ended and where is it now?  

2010 - The fallout between Zuma and the then leadership of the ANC youth league, which was led by Malema, played out at the party’s national general council in Durban in 2010 where the league wanted the party to make economic emancipation a priority. 

It is believed that soured the relationship between Zuma and Malema. Gordhan at that time was in Zuma’s good books after he had pulled him from the South African Revenue Services (Sars) to be the country’s finance minister. Malema is believed to have concluded that Zuma asked Gordhan to help him with tax information that could be used to silence Malema.  

2013 - As a result of his woes with the tax man, in June 2013 Malema’s farm was sold for R2.5 million to settle R16 million (the outstanding tax fee was later revised down to R7 million). An angry Malema and his close associates and confidantes went on to form the EFF which would later be a thorn in the side of the scandal prone Zuma. For years no opportunity presented itself for Malema to avenge the tax wound against Gordhan until a complaint was laid against the former Sars commissioner about the rogue unit which allegedly spied on several citizens of the country and law enforcement agencies. 

2016 - Rogue unit probe opened front for political assault on Gordhan 

In 2016 a complaint was registered with the Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane to probe the existence of the unit and that opened a front that has left Gordhan and subsequently, his political boss, Cyril Ramaphosa, exposed. It has since became an Achilles heel for the two men. 

May 2019 - Almost three years after the complaint was lodged, Mkhwebane found Gordhan guilt of approving early retirement for former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay and Malema’s EFF stood with Mkhwebane arguing that Gordhan should take the matter for a judicial review if he was not happy. Malema also cautioned Ramaphosa against appointing Gordhan into his cabinet until he has cleared his name. In a statement, Gordhan accused the EFF and Mkhwebane of aiding those who are resisting attempts to clean the state after state capture. 

June 25, 2019 - Leading his red beret team of MPs, Malema staged a walkout when Gordhan stood to make an input during a state of the nation debate. He told deputy speaker, Lechesa Tsenoli that they would “sit outside until the constitutional delinquent” was done.

July 11, 2019 - The last major political assault on Gordhan was on July 11 this year when the red berets wanted to manhandle him and remove him from parliament while he was delivering his department’s budget speech. 

On Thursday last week Malema announced that his party will protest outside the Pretoria high court on Tuesday when the first part of Gordhan's court action against the Public Protector is heard.

Political Bureau