Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leaders Julius Malema, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Veronica Mente have defended fellow fighter and MP Naledi Chirwa after a social media user questioned her nationality.
Twitter user @uLerato_pillay had to fend off fighters on Sunday after a post promising an exposé on “Malawian Naledi Chirwa’s family”.
This, however, will not be anything close to an exposé as Chirwa herself tweeted about her parents’ nationalities back in 2013.
Dad from Malawi, mom from Zim, and I'm South African… But this was supposed to be picture perfect… -_-
— Naledi Chirwa (@NalediChirwa) March 31, 2013
— Naledi Chirwa (@NalediChirwa) March 8, 2020
“Mxm, sies,” said Malema in defence of Chirwa, adding: “Naledi Chirwa is us, and we will defend her with everything. Pillay, are [you] South African wena?”
Ndlozi wrote: “Naledi Chirwa ngowethu… Siyavuma,” while Mente said: “Seeking relevance is a very obnoxious activity and extremely disgusting when a young intelligentsia is being attacked by a fellow woman. Naledi Chirwa is and will always be a child of South Africa and an African through and through.”
Even former DA leader Mmusi Maimane jumped to her defence.
“Every member of parliament is vetted thoroughly before taking up office. This birther conspiracy smacks of afrophobia and fear of this brilliant young South African. It does not matter what party she represents we must not entertain online abuse,” said Maimane.
The post divided social media users, with some asking for more information on Chirwa’s nationality while others, mostly Fighters, cried xenophobia.
— ✨Mrs S✨ (@Feather_Ruffler) March 9, 2020
Others were, however, quick to remind the EFF that what was happening to their member was merely karma, as they too once questioned then home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba’s nationality following former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor’s social media post about him.
Mentor in 2017 claimed Gigaba’s original surname was Gigamba and he was Zimbabwean.
Mentor challenged her followers to provide proof of Gigaba being capable of speaking isiZulu for more than an hour.
She alleged his “umbilical cord was not buried on the South African soil”.
His then spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete, told The Citizen it was “irresponsible of a former member of parliament to make comments that fuel xenophobia and expose her ignorance”.
“Next week she will say the minister is an extraterrestrial being.”
Despite Tshwete’s response, the EFF still questioned Gigaba’s nationality, even asking him to explain himself in parliament.
During Gigaba’s testimony to parliament’s public enterprises committee in 2018, which was investigating allegations of state capture at state-owned entities, EFF MP Marshall Dlamini asked Gigaba to explain his nationality.
Gigaba said in part: “Honourable member, I find your question quite peculiar, extremely peculiar; offensive to my family, offensive to my father who is late. Offensive to my mother, offensive to my father who was born at Nqabeni Embonela, where my clan has lived for hundreds of years, where if you go now, you will find members of my clan living on the lands that the fathers of the fathers of our fathers have lived; our home where the spirit of my grand fathers still live.”
Later in the same meeting, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu asked Gigaba why he was offended by the question on his nationality.
He asked at the time: “What is offensive when people ask you about your nationality? It happens every day when we apply for visas, and when we travel people ask us about our nationalities. Where were you born? Even the visa application specifies where your father was born. Isn’t this an opportunity for you to clarify where you were born and where your father was born? What is offensive about that?”
In response, Gigaba said: “What is offensive about it, honourable chairperson, is I know for a fact that the source of your question is as malicious as the extensive vilification campaign to which I have been subjected for political reasons. I find it malicious. It would be fine if the honourable members started by telling us who they are and explain what their concerns are before asking who I am.”
Later Shivambu found himself defending his parliament comments after being accused of being xenophobic.
Here we are as EFF purporting to be fighting everything colonial, yet unashamedly and brazenly advancing the colonialists' divide and rule policy! Africa had no borders!
— Sammie Jay (@unitedisforme) March 13, 2018