Despite Gareth Cliff being a “racist who holds white supremacist views”‚ the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said on Tuesday that it has no qualms with its national chairperson representing him in a civil case.
Dali Mpofu’s name emerged on Monday in connection with the lawsuit launched by personality Cliff against M-Net for R25-million after being axed for social media comments related to the recent racist rants of Penny Sparrow on Facebook.
After Cliff tweeted: “People really don’t understand freedom of speech at all”‚ M-Net issued a statement announcing that he had been dropped from the latest edition of Idols SA.
Deputy president Floyd Shivambu said the “EFF acknowledges advocate Mpofu’s professional right and obligation to represent whomsoever approaches and briefs him on any issue that relates to law”.
“In our view‚ professionals carry an obligation to provide any form of professional assistance to all people‚ irrespective of their race‚ prejudices and background‚” Shivambu added.
However‚ Shivambu said Cliff’s “recent defence of Sparrow’s reference to blacks as monkeys and her despise of the black skin on the basis that it’s freedom of speech is totally unacceptable”.
“The non-apology given by Cliff is noted but it does not change that his prompt reaction to the dehumanising and racist statements of Sparrow was that she must be defended for freedom of speech‚” continued Shivambu.
“Freedom of speech is never absolute and beneficiaries of white racism in SA should never be used this right as justification of their racist utterances.”
Shivambu said that Cliff’s “white supremacist views” had “previously manifested through his insult to and celebration of a sad reality that an African family lost a loved one in late health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang”.
“In true African traditions and respect‚ such is not done‚ but can only be done by unreconstructed and uncultured racists who have no respect of black people and their traditions‚” he said.
In 2009‚ Cliff caused a stir when he tweeted: “Manto is dead. Good. A selfish and wicked bungler of the lowest order. Rotten attitude and rancid livers – all three of them.”
“The EFF’s national chairperson’s representation of a racist Gareth Cliff does not mean that the EFF defends racism‚” said Shivambu.
“Lawyers and advocates have a legal obligation to fulfil their professional duties and the EFF will not prevent professionals from performing their duties.”