The chief fighter and Commander-in-Chief of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said on Friday that his grandmother Sarah Malema actually told him to apologize to Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor.
In an interview on Metro FM with DJ Fresh, Juju said his grandmother scolded him and asked him to publicly apologize the minister when he mocked her eight years ago.
Sometime in February 2009, when Malema was the president of the ANC Youth League, he shamed Pandor – who was South Africa’s Education Minister at the time – for her ‘fake accent’.
He ridiculed the minister while criticizing her inability to resolve a salary dispute at the Tshwane University of Technology.
Malema told hundreds of students and staff at the institution’s Pretoria campus at the time “She must use her fake accent to address our problems.”
The chief fighter lambasted Minister Pandor then after TUT management announced that the institution would be closed due to ongoing protests by both students and staff over salary negotiations.
Though the once ANC’s untouchable golden boy, later apologized to Pandor a day after he made the comments, he revisited the matter on Friday while speaking on how he cherishes his grandmother and her advice.
In a copy of the letter addressed to Pandor, Malema wrote: “I acknowledge that the remarks I made against you were uncalled for and might have disappointed and hurt you. I write this letter to unconditionally apologize for those remarks.”
He also applauded Pandor in his letter for the many occasions that she had been a great teacher who expressed honest opinions and views even when they did not enjoy popular support.
“Once again, we assert our most sincere and unconditional apology to you and the ANC for what we accept to have been uncalled for remarks,” Juju wrote.
At the time, ANC’s Jesse Duarte slammed Malema’s comments, saying they suggested a lack of respect and dignity for the Minister.
“The ANCYL is entitled to express its own positions and views. However, this should be done within the norms and culture of the ANC. There can be no excuse for the kind of utterances attributed to Malema,” Duarte buttressed.
During the interview with DJ Fresh, Malema said Winnie Mandela could have been the first female president if she had joined the EFF. He said he believes Winnie was the one who sold Mandela’s name to the international community.
Minister Naledi Pandor has been serving as South Minister of Science and Technology since 2014. She had previously held the post from 2009-2012.
She also served as the Minister of Home Affairs from 2012-2014. During Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe’s tenures, she was the Minister of Education, serving from 2004–2009.
In 1994, she was elected to parliament and in 1999, she was appointed Chairperson of The National Council of Provinces by President Thabo Mbeki.
Pandor was born in Durban, Natal. She is married to Sharif Joseph Pandor and the union produced five children. Her Islamic name is Nadia – a name given to by her in-laws after she converted to Islam, shortly after she met her husband in Botswana.