South Africa’s maim opposition party on Monday accused its nearest rival of inciting ethnic violence during a large-scale rally, effectively ruling out the possibility of forming a broad coalition ahead of next year’s elections.
Julius Malema, the leader of the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), sparked controversy as he led chants of “kill the Boer, the farmer” during his speech to a crowd of supporters on Saturday.
The Boer are the descendants of Dutch settlers.
On Monday, John Steenhuisen, the leader of South Africa’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), accused Julius Malema of being intent on instigating a civil war with his actions and rhetoric.
He branded the firebrand politician as a “bloodthirsty tyrant,” driven by a desire to incite “mass murder.”
Steenhuisen further mentioned that the Democratic Alliance (DA) intends to file a complaint against him with the UN Human Rights Council and is also contemplating additional legal actions.
The dispute arises as South African parties strategize for the upcoming national elections in 2024.
Opinion polls indicate that the ruling African National Congress (ANC), which has been in power since the end of white rule in 1994, may experience its vote share falling below 50 percent.
The party faces challenges due to public dissatisfaction with corruption, power shortages, and persistent unemployment.
Earlier this month, Malema stated that the EFF, South Africa’s third-largest party, is open to the possibility of forming a coalition with the DA, which is leading a coalition comprising six smaller parties.
Last week, Steenhuisen informed media that the EFF was excluded from the coalition because it did not align with the coalition’s “values and principles.”
The possibility of reconciliation appears to have been quashed on Monday, as Steenhuisen referred to the EFF as the “political enemy number one.”
Following a display of strength on Saturday, where the EFF gathered 90,000 supporters dressed in the party’s signature red color to celebrate its 10th anniversary in a Johannesburg stadium, the tensions between the parties have escalated.
Malema received a rock-star welcome from exuberant fans as he took the stage. Wearing his iconic red beret, the 42-year-old was elevated on a platform amid a burst of red and gold confetti.
The DA, which has historically appealed to a predominantly white electorate, is projected to secure approximately 16 percent of the vote based on current polling data.
The EFF, which advocates for reforms to promote land ownership among Black South Africans, is currently polling at approximately 13 percent.
Singing “Kill the Boer” has led Malema into legal issues in the past. Last year, a court ruled that the song did not qualify as hate speech, but an appeal is still pending.