The EFF Only Pose As Feminists

Journalist Karima Brown has laid charges against Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema after Malema shared her cell phone number in a tweet on March 5. A string of ugly event has followed this incident which reveals the EFF’s misogyny against female journalists.

Brown, who currently hosts eNCA’s The Fix and 702 and Cape Talk’s The Karima Brown show and is a producer at eNCA, was threatened “with rape, with sexual assault, with violence”. This is according to an interview with The Citizen.

This came after Brown mistakenly posted an editorial brief in the EFF media WhatsApp group, following the party’s invitation to an EFF “Breakfast With The Elderly” function scheduled for 6 March. The message said: “Keep an eye out for this. Who are these elders. Are they all male and how are they chosen. Keep watching brief (sic).” She then deleted it.

In retaliation, Malema tweeted a screenshot of the message, without blocking Brown’s cell phone number, that read: “Karima Brown is sending moles to our breakfast with the elders tomorrow, she incidentally sends the message to the @EFFSouthAfrica media WhatsApp group and deleted it immediately.”

After that, Brown received a barrage of threats on her private line and on social media which she said she suspects were sent by bots or people tweeting under a false identity or from multiple accounts.

Brown said she also intended to lay complaints against Malema and the party with the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) and the Electoral Court for intimidation, violence and enabling the abuse she has faced.

In a media statement, the EFF responded and said: “The EFF has long held a position that Karima Brown is not a journalist, but an openly admitted ANC operative. All journalists who hold legitimate positions, and whose integrity has always been consistent with journalistic ethics, should care about what role Karima Brown plays in the media.”

The party has also levelled similar accusations against other female journalists.

Attacks on other female journalists

Journalist Ranjeni Munusamy blocked Malema in November last year. This after Malema called out Munusamy’s support for former president Jacob Zuma. After he was blocked, Malema tweeted: “The manager of ‘Friends of Jacob Zuma’ website also blocked me.”

The irony is that the EFF leader was once too a Zuma supporter.

Malema had attacked Munusamy and other journalists who he called the “Ramaphosa defence force” speaking outside the state capture inquiry commission during minister of public enterprises Pravin Gordhan’s testimony. Similar attacks have been leveled against her at EFF press briefings.

After the incident, Munusamy described being “accosted by three men in a shop”, likely EFF supporters, who shouted her surname and mocked her.

Malema and EFF supporters also threatened journalists Pauli van Wyk, who wrote about the EFF’s involvement with the VBS Mutual Bank Scandal, and  Thandeka Gqubule, whom he implied was an apartheid-era Stratcom spy.

The EFF does not see how these attacks bely misogyny, which is worrying.

The EFF poses as feminist but acts misogynistically

The power gap between a journalist and a leader of a political party with hundreds of thousands of supporters is wide open. The gap between a female journalist and a party leader is even bigger.

Nine times we questioned the EFF’s feminist politics

The fact that Malema can tweet something about a journalist – be it Brown or Munusamy – and have an army of bots attack that person is a kind of power. That these kinds of statements sometimes result in physical attacks is an even greater power.

As women living in a patriarchal society, and a country with some of the highest rape and femicide statistics in the world these provocations against female journalists are especially dangerous. As the leader of the formidable opposition, Malema ought to know that.

Malema: End Violence Against Women And Queer Community

The EFF constantly reiterates rhetoric that supports the fight against gender-based violence and femicide. “Women” is mentioned 81 times in its manifesto, with specific policies geared towards the eradication of gender-based violence.

Yet the EFF sees no problem in inciting violence against female journalists because, in the EFF’s view, these women are compromised.

It’s not enough to call out the rogue supporters, the EFF must understand how it is inciting violence against women.

Journalists are required to present work that is fair, accurate, and balanced. The EFF is most welcome to point out when journalists are not living up to journalistic ethics. However, the party must use the relevant channels like the press council.

Malema, And Rape As A Metaphor

Instead, it is often the case that Malema will publicly humiliate female journalists. In the last five EFF pressers, The Daily Vox has attended, we have both seen Malema call out female journalists and have been called out ourselves. The EFF leader has taken to mansplain to female journalists how to report.

Brown’s personal politics aside, any journalist can look at the message she sent and confirm that these are ordinary editorial processes. Just because the EFF is seemingly unaware of editorial processes does not mean that they are nefarious and non-existent.

Just like journalists could never address crowds of thousands of supporters, politicians cannot write the news.

As a political leader Malema will constantly be put under public scrutiny. He can’t accuse the media of being embedded if they don’t pander to a certain narrative. This endangers media freedom and places South Africa’s democracy in grave danger.

We accuse the EFF of misogyny and eroding South Africa’s democracy.

Featured image by Fatima Moosa