Malema controversy lands SA at UN Human Rights Council


EFF leader, Julius Malema

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE move by the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) to file charges against Julius Malema and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) at the United Nations Human Rights Council will bring South Africa in the international spotlight again.

Locally, it is the latest in a series of fallouts between Malema, the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and his detractors.

It comes days after a milestone celebration by the EFF this past weekend, when over 100 000 supporters attended the party’s ten-year anniversary.

DA contends that at the celebrations held in the historic Soweto on Saturday, Malema incited ethnic violence when he sang the divisive, revolutionary “Kill the Boer” song.

It is interpreted as an order to kill Afrikaner farmers, in a country where the land and the economy remains at the hands of the white minority.

On Monday, John Steenhuisen, leader of the DA, announced the party will press charges against Malema and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC at the UN Human Rights Council, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

“The first element of our UN case will focus on Malema’s repeated incitement of ethnic violence,” Steenhuisen said.

“The second element will charge the ANC national government before the UN over its years-long failure to take action against their one time protégé even as brutal farm murders continue to escalate in the wake of Malema’s demagoguery.”

The DA leader said charges will be laid in terms of Malema’s alleged violation of, at least, three key UN charters.

These, he said, are the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities as well as International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Steenhuisen called on Ramaphosa to publicly condemn Malema, lest he be complicit.

“If Ramaphosa fails to denounce Malema, it can only mean that he is too cowardly to honour the oath he took to uphold the Constitution and defend all the people of South Africa,” the opposition leader said.

ANC and EFF had not commented.

Plans to press charges against the government at the UN comes as the dust settles on the controversy around whether the country would arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the war with Ukraine.

That has been settled after it was announced Putin would not be attending the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Summit in South Africa in August.

Malema, meanwhile, in his speech urged other BRICS leaders to boycott the summit.

It is not the first time Malema (42), expelled from the ANC in 2012, has faced legal issues over the anti-apartheid “Kill the Boer.”

The first documented case was in 2010, when he was addressing university students in 2010.

Afriforum laid hate speech charges. Malema was convicted but the sentence carried no criminal penalty.

In a separate case in 2022, the Constitutional Court dismissed another Afriforum complaint after accepting Malema’s argument that the lyrics should not be interpreted literally but in their proper historical context as a statement of resistance to land dispossession.

Afriforum focuses mainly on the interests of Afrikaners, a subgroup of the country’s white population. The DA, despite denials, is also accused of looking after the interests of white South Africans.

Malema on the other hand is hailed as a pan-African.

– CAJ News

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