12/06/2018 12:27 SAST | Updated 12/06/2018 12:27 SAST

Does Malema's Anti-White Rhetoric Work?

The EFF leader said in a recent interview that his party has 'not called for the murder of white people... at least, for now'.

Julius Malema.
Julius Malema.

EFF leader Julius Malema has again made headlines with controversial comments, saying his party is not calling 'for the murder of white South Africans... at least, for now'.

The party's race-baiting has been in the spotlight frequently — most recently, it launched a motion of no confidence in Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip 'because he is white', as 'punishment' after the DA voted (in accordance with its party manifesto) against land expropriation without compensation in Parliament, and the party's deputy leader, Floyd Shivambu, called a senior member of Treasury "non-African".

In an interview with TRT World published on Monday, Malema said: "I'm saying to you, we've not called for the killing of white people... at least, for now. I can't guarantee the future."

READ: 'We Have Not Called For The Killing Of White People... At Least, For Now'

Later in the interview, he contradicted himself, saying: "Not under my leadership will we call for the slaughter of white people."

In 2011 Malema, president of the ANC Youth League at the time, was found guilty of hate speech, when the Equality Court ruled against the words "Dubula I'bhunu" — or "shoot the boer", sung by Malema at several rallies.

But does Malema's anti-white rhetoric work politically and appeal to the EFF's support bloc?

Independent political analyst Molifi Tshabalala said his comments are counterproductive in the long run.

"I don't think this rhetoric will help in the long run for the party. The EFF has not diversified enough within its ranks or within its voters. You cannot hope to govern without diversifying to meet the needs of all people," he said.

"You cannot become the governing party or president for black people only... It must be for all South Africans. So his comments made be emotive now and help get voters here and there, but in the long run, if the EFF hopes to govern some day, it will be counterproductive."

Ipsos director Mari Harris said the EFF plays to a certain portion of South Africa's population.

"Everything the EFF does needs to be seen within this context. They are playing to the left wing. Malema is also trying to attract those from the left of the ANC and other radical elements in society. But an anti-white sentiment is not in the EFF's policy documents," she said.

"The party has grown quite a bit from 2014, and did well at the local government elections in 2016. I think Malema is speaking to his supporters directly when making these statements."