Malema’s party rocked by infighting

Johannesburg – Internal squabbles within the troubled Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) escalated this week as the party battled to contain claims of the swindling of party funds made against its leader, Julius Malema.

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The EFF on Saturday said it had on Friday laid charges of unlawful possession of stolen property, intimidation and impersonating a police officer against its estranged MP Andile Mngxitama, Gayton McKenzie, Kenny Kunene and City Press journalist Charles Cilliers.

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Police spokeswoman Colonel Noxolo Kweza said she could only confirm the charges of impersonating a police officer and intimidation that had been laid by the EFF.

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She also could not disclose the names of all the people that the charges had been laid against.

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EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee said on Saturday the party had laid charges against the three individuals because it was clear they had obtained the financial records of the party illegally.

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Gardee said EFF accountant Rirhandzu Baloyi had written a letter confirming he was forced to hand over the documents under false pretences, and stressed that “whoever receives stolen goods is as guilty as the person who stole them”.

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“They have all tweeted that they are in possession of EFF documents.”

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“It becomes obvious they have private EFF documents, which were acquired unlawfully, improperly and illegally,” said Gardee.

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Gardee said Mngxitama should be the first person to be arrested by the police investigating the matter, while he will also face an internal disciplinary process.

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Baloyi has since done an about-turn and claimed in a letter to Mngxitama that he did so under the false pretence that they were members of the Hawks.

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The Sunday Independent has seen the letter, in which Baloyi claims Mngxitama tricked him into handing over EFF financial records and statement under the pretence he was handing them over to the Hawks.

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Baloyi was one of the members who crossed over with Mngxitama to the EFF from the September National Imbizo, an organisation led by Mngxitama before he joined the EFF after it was founded in 2013.

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In the five-page letter, Baloyi alleges the documents were handed over to Mngxitama, Kunene and McKenzie, who have since used the information to level the allegations against Malema.

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He claims he learnt much later that the ‘Hawks official’ was actually Cilliers, a City Press journalist who would later publish a story in the newspaper about the allegedly irregular purchase with party funds of a Golf GTi vehicle for Malema.

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According to Baloyi’s letter, the information handed over to Mngxitama included the invoice for the car and the proof of payment, the fund statement of the EFF in Gauteng, bank statements of its national and provincial structures and statements of the party’s credit cards.

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McKenzie said on Saturday he was voluntarily handed those documents by an EFF official who knew that he did not “fear” Malema.

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“Look here, Julius must just know that I am coming for him. The chickens are coming home to roost. My issue with him is not about seeking just justice or the truth. It is deeply personal.

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“If he is laying charges against me, he must know that he will meet me in jail and that is the last place he wants to meet me. I was responsible for the biggest prison exposé when I was in jail without any resources. Now I am outside, I have the resources and I am coming for him, he must be very afraid,” said McKenzie.

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McKenzie also said on Saturday that he would be submitting evidence of corruption against Malema to the Hawks tomorrow, on the same day that Mngxitama is expected to reveal allegedly damning information about Malema’s private use of party funds.

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But it was unclear on Saturday if the conference would proceed because there were concerns it could be disrupted again.

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This comes after a week in which Malema was kicked out of Parliament and EFF MPs were assaulted by security personnel during the chaotic State of the Nation address.

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McKenzie recently published a damning letter in which he accused Malema of, among others, swindling party funds and secretly negotiating a return to the ANC.

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He went further and implied Malema might have been involved in the murder of ANC councillor Aubuti Chika, for which EFF North West leader Papiki Babuile is serving a 12-year jail term.

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The EFF charges stem from allegedly damning financial records and statements of the party’s bank accounts.

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The party is at war with Mngxitama, who has openly accused the EFF leadership of corruption and has publicly stated that he fears for his life after taking on the EFF leadership.

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Mngxitama abandoned a scheduled press conference this week when he was attacked by EFF members loyal to Malema, and has said if he is still alive tomorrow he would reveal all at the press conference.

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This information is believed to be contained in documents that he acquired from Patriotic Alliance president and former convict-turned millionaire McKenzie, former EFF member and Malema’s friend Kunene and Baloyi.

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Mngxitama said on Saturday night the charges were just a campaign to spread misinformation about him, and Baloyi was forced to write the letter.

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“They forced the poor guy to put his name on that letter, which has not been sent to me but circulated to the media. It’s part of the smear campaign against me, but it’s really foolish.

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“We will rid our movement of the ANC cultures of smear campaigns, misinformation and lies against individuals all in the defence of the leadership that is doing wrong things,” said Mngxitama.

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City Press editor Ferial Haffajee said on Saturday she was not aware whether the EFF had laid the charges, but the party had told her it intended to do so. – The Sunday Independent