Nine times we questioned the EFF’s feminist politics

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) appeals to the marginalised and underrepresented. Theirs is a political party that speaks to the youth, the working class, the black and the landless. But how well do they speak to women? The Daily Vox rounds up nine times the EFF Commander-in-Chief Julius Malema or the party revealed its perpetuation of patriarchy by misogyny or sexism.

Just as we cannot absolve Helen Zille as the Western Cape Premier of her colonialist tweets, or President Jacob Zuma as head of the ANC for his corruption charges, Malema’s sexism and misogyny must be called out because he represents the EFF.

1. Malema’s misogyny

Julius Malema has a history of sexist and misogynistic behaviour that dates back to when he was the head of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL). Yes, it’s easy to forget that the same man who dons red overalls in Parliament used to be quite comfortable in yellow and green.

Lest we forget, Malema is a rape apologist. Fezekile Kuzwayo, or Khwezi as she was known, accused Zuma of rape in 2005. Zuma was found not guilty the following year. Malema infamously defended Zuma’s innocence. When he spoke at the Cape University of Technology as the ANCYL president in 2009, he suggested to students that Khwezi had “had a nice time” with Zuma.

“When a woman didn’t enjoy it, she leaves early in the morning. Those who had a nice time will wait until the sun comes out, request breakfast and ask for taxi money,” he said. He added that because Khwezi asked for money, she couldn’t have been raped, saying, “You can’t ask someone who raped you for money.”

Khwezi died last year.

2.  His “tea girl” comments

Also during his stint in the ANC in 2011, Malema refused to debate with then-spokesperson of the DA, Lindiwe Mazibuko. He called her “the Madam’s tea girl” implying that Mazibuko was the “servant” of former DA head Helen Zille.

Sure, both incidents occurred before the inception of the EFF, but that does not exonerate Malema. His misogyny continues. First off, why resort to personal insults if someone disagrees with you, second, calling a grown woman a girl is derogatory, and third, what’s wrong with being a tea lady anyway?

3. His use of rape metaphors

There was a nasty back-and-forth between former pals Zuma and Malema before elections last year. Zuma mocked Malema during an election campaign speech in North West and asked how people could vote for someone who used to say “I will die for Zuma” (referring to Malema).

Malema responded by calling Zuma a “dumb fool” and told The Citizen “Zuma wanted to continue molesting me without Vaseline.”

Not only is this comment a misuse of the term ‘molest’, but it stinks of rape apology and a perpetuation of rape culture. Rape is a visceral reality. It is not a laughing matter or a metaphor to be dropped in casual conversation (or in cartoons or artwork).

Almost 43 000 rapes were reported in SA last year and countless rapes go unreported.

(Also, Vaseline? Is that even safe?)

4. His sexist comments about Dudu Myeni

When Dudu Myeni was again confirmed as head of South African Airways last year, Malema emphasised the intimate relationship between Myeni and President Zuma and called her “Dudu Myeni-Zuma”.

“Dudu Myeni-Zuma has a special relationship with the president and therefore spends most of the time presiding over the personal foundation of the president of the ANC,” he said in Parliament.

Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu called Malema out on his sexism for alluding to a sexual relationship between the two and calling Myeni “Myeni-Zuma” despite the fact she was married.

In response, Malema said Zulu must not act as if she was suddenly a feminist, because she was not.

5. His referring to women as “side chicks”

Last year, Malema commented on Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s cheating scandal and said if Gigaba could not manage his “side-chicks”, how could he save the ruling party, which had just lost some metros in the local government elections.

“If anyone hopes Malusi can rescue the ANC, then the ANC is hopeless. Their recent example is two women fighting over Malusi … a minister. And he has no control over them … both. If he can’t handle such a small thing, how can he handle a complex company called South Africa?” he said.

The cheating scandal refers to an Instagram spat between stylist Buhle Mkhize and Gigaba’s wife Noma, who later spoke publicly about her husband’s affair.

6. His badgering of Baleka Mbete

Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete has been on the receiving end of some pretty misogynistic insults by the CIC. Malema was in full form at the State of the Nation Address (SONA) earlier this year.

First, Malema called her irrational. “Your conduct has failed you to be a candidate for president because you are irrational, impatient and partisan!” he said.

While Mbete has showed questionable judgment in defending Zuma no matter his transgressions, there is a history of men calling women irrational or hysterical to invalidate their arguments.

Malema’s comments fuel this perception that being emotional means being illogical and that  women are emotional beings who don’t make sense and aren’t capable of making decisions.

7. Make that repeated badgering

Malema didn’t stop there. He went on to say: “Even your own people have dumped you! After they told you, you are their candidate. You went home to do umcgibi (ancestral ceremony) and appeased the ancestors, thinking you were going to be a president! After that they dumped you, because of this conduct! How do you chase us for breaking the rules, and you are not chasing a man who has broken his oath of office?”

8. His “Gupta’s kitchen” comments concerning Busisiwe Mkhwebane

In January, the EFF said the party regretted supporting the appointment of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in Parliament.

“She is a mistake … South Africa regret supporting her. She is a Gupta puppet straight from the Gupta’s kitchen … once a spy always a spy. She’s proving without fail that we were wrong, please do not call her public protector,” party leader Julius Malema told reporters in Johannesburg.

9. The EFF referring to its female fighters as “roses”

Before the SONA earlier this year, Secretary General Godrich Gardee tweeted a picture of EFF women fighters with the caption “#RosesOfTheRevolution.” Because obviously, what other purpose do women have in the revolution rather than to look pretty? Maybe the men are the thorns? I don’t know.

But there may yet be hope, despite all of the above because …

10. EFF spokesperson Comrade Bae, er, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi  pushes strong anti-patriarchal and feminist rhetoric

Ahead of the 16 days of activism last year, Ndlozi said the EFF are committed to the protection of rights of women and children “not only during the 16 days but every day of the year”.

“The EFF has identified patriarchy as an enemy in society that must be defeated in order for women and children to live freely‚ without fear and marginalisation,” Ndlozi said.

It’s great that the EFF can talk the talk, but to be more inclusive and respectful of women they really need to introspect and figure out how to walk the walk.

Featured image via Twitter