Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has invited five journalists to a 'public interrogation' session in an attempt to dispel rumours of corruption and misconduct relating, primarily, to the VBS Mutual Bank saga.
The clarion call for cross-examination was issued on Wednesday afternoon, when Malema responded to questions tabled by SABC reporter, Samkele Maseko. This follows a line of inquiry which was directed to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) during a recent press briefing concerning high-profile arrests in the VBS case. Maseko asked whether the EFF's alleged connection to the 'Great Bank Heist' formed part of the NPA's investigation; public prosecutor Shamila Batohi and Hawks boss Godfrey Lebeya refused to elaborate.
Julius Malema on VBS interrogation: 'We are not scared'
Malema has, however, reiterated his deep concern over the association between members of the EFF and the wanton corruption which ultimately collapsed VBS Mutual Bank. Despite numerous reports implicating high-ranking EFF members in wrongdoing, Malema has consistently and vehemently denied any corruptive dealings. On Wednesday, the EFF leader issued a challenge to Maseko and other well-known journalists, saying:
"I challenged Samkelo Maseko to gather 5 journalists from different media houses he trusts for a public interrogation session with myself. These journalists can ask whatever question they wish, from VBS, bank statements, On Point, and so called collapse of Limpopo."
Pauli Van Wyk invited but unlikely to attend
Malema extended the invitation to Daily Maverick journalist, Pauli Van Wyk, who has spearheaded the investigative exposé connecting the EFF with VBS corruption. The allegations, which have been a persistent and painful thorn in the EFF's side, stem from a damning Reserve Bank (SARB) report which implicates Brian Shivambu — the brother of the EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu — in an irregular R16 million payday.
Van Wyk, who, in addition to being banned from covering EFF events, has been subjected to intimidation and violent threats as a result of her persistent reporting, replied to Malema's challenge, saying:
"Daily Maverick and amaBhungane are still banned from EFF press conferences.
I will consider attending open and equitable press conferences when we are officially and publically unbanned."
The panel of journalists set to grill Malema
Malema confirmed that the following journalists had been invited to the public interrogation, which would be held at the EFF headquarters in De Korte Street, Johannesburg at 12:00:
Samkelo Maseko – political journalist for SABC
- Mahlatse Mahlase – Editor-in-Chief at EWN[*]Matshidiso Madia – journalist[*]Aldrin Sampear – Powerfm987 Talk host[*]Eusebius McKaiser – journalist and former Radio702 host[*]Pauli Van Wyk – investigative journalist for Daily Maverick and amaBhungane (unlikely to attend)
Malema also extended an invite to arch-nemesis, Pravin Gordhan, the Minister of Public Enterprises. Malema who has been locked in a protracted public battle with Gordhan, said:
"Lastly the invitation is also extended to Pravin Gordhan and Momoniat who thrive on destroying people's reputation without getting any court convictions. If they mean anything they've said about us in corners to journalists, it's time they joined the panel and say it directly to us."
How to watch the 'public interrogation'
EFF Spokesperson Vuyani Pambo has been in contact with the journalists invited to lead the interrogation. Pambo noted that the question and answer session would be broadcast publically across all of the EFF's online platforms, including:
- EFF Twitter[*]EFF Facebook
The session, which is due to start at 12:00 on Thursday 25 June, will also include a public response segment where ordinary South Africans will have the opportunity to quiz the EFF leader.