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By Citizen Reporter


EFF got away with ‘immoral’ blackmailing of Nene, says professor

A political analyst accuses the party of having committed 'deeply immoral' blackmail and says the media are reluctant to call them out.

In a column in Business Day, professor Steven Friedman calls a statement from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) “political blackmailing” for its threats to reveal “dark secrets” about former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene if he didn’t resign.

“The EFF is aware of many other dealings and dark secrets that compromises Nhlanhla Nene and will reveal all if he does not voluntarily step down as a minister of finance,” the statement read.

The professor argues that this is “deeply immoral” whether or not the EFF were telling the truth about the “dark secrets.”

“If the EFF knows of Nene’s ‘dealings and dark secrets’, it must make these public. It has no business using the information to get Nene to do what it wants him to do — and even less business keeping silent because he did what the statement said he should do. This is political blackmail. Information purported to show bad behaviour is used not to enlighten the public or enforce the law, but to allow some to wield power over others,” Friedman writes.

“It is, of course, possible that the EFF has no knowledge of any ‘dark secrets’. In that case it has also fallen foul of the law and morality by slandering a public figure,” he continues.

The professor also argues that “the EFF remains popular in the media,” and “so its statements are less likely to be called out than those of its less fashionable rivals”.

READ MORE: EFF slams Nene’s ‘extremely arrogant’ ‘lies’ at Zondo inquiry

The party’s calls for Nene’s head have been somewhat forgotten amid the VBS Bank scandal that has happened since. A report on the alleged looting of the bank found that Brian Shivambu, brother of EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu, was accused of receiving a “gratuitous” payment of R16 million.

Then, a story in the Daily Maverick alleged that Floyd Shivambu had received R10 million from his brother, and that the EFF had received R1.3 million.

At a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Braamfontein yesterday, EFF president Julius Malema defended Shivambu, who also directly denied having received the R10 million.

READ MORE: Malema intensifies war against Nene, threatens to reveal ‘dark secrets’

Malema also appeared to indicate that the EFF should take some credit for Nene’s resignation.

He expressed “pride” over the removal of the former minister.

Furthermore, they claim the VBS allegations are linked to their supposed role in Nene’s departure.

READ MORE: EFF allegedly received R1.3m in VBS loot directly – report

“We know that [Public Enterprises Minister] Pravin Gordhan and his faction are angry about this and they’ve launched a media attack on the EFF to try and shut us up,” he alleged.

While the party did embark on a campaign to remove Nene prior to his resignation, some noted a sharp change for the party – who appeared to express support for Nene before – and did call for his resignation following his testimony at the Zondo inquiry, whether or not the resignation had any connection to the EFF’s calls is unclear.

Nene gave evidence at the commission of inquiry into state capture, where he told the inquiry’s chairperson Justice Raymond Zondo that he had met with the family four times between 2010 and 2013, while he was indeed deputy minister of finance.

This contradicted earlier claims by the former minister, including ones in an interview on eNCA.

In the clip, the minister claims that while he was deputy finance minister or finance minister he only ever saw the Guptas at public gatherings, and has never been invited to any “engagements” with the Indian-born businessmen widely believed to have played a role in capturing the South African state.

While announcing Nene’s resignation and the swearing in of his replacement, Tito Mboweni, president Cyril Ramaphosa said Nene felt recent revelations that he had met with the Guptas several times while deputy minister of finance despite earlier denying having done so would “detract from the important task of serving the people of South Africa.”

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