Musk vs Malema: give it a break, Elon

Elon Musk

Late on Wednesday, Elon Musk, reposting an error-riddled post from an account called “End Wokeness”, wrote on his social media platform X: “The likely future leader of South Africa calls for genocide of the 4 million whites who live there.”

He was responding to – and amplifying to his 170 million followers – the End Wokeness tweet that read: “Julius Malema has repeatedly called for the genocide of the 4 million Whites living in South Africa. Malema could very possibly be elected as Prime Minister (sic) in a few months.”

It’s not the first time Musk has had a go at Malema, and it probably won’t be the last. But his posts likely have little to do with the country of his birth. No, this is about US politics, America’s yawning cultural and political divide, and Musk’s need to bolster his loss-making social network, for which he paid US$44-billion (and is never likely to see a return on his investment).

Really, Elon? You’re going to repost an incendiary post like this one just as South Africans go the polls in what some have called the most significant election since the dawn of democracy in 2024.

Musk’s latest post needs further interrogation.

According to the latest Wits poll, Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party attracts only a fifth or sixth of voters, while an Ipsos survey conducted face-to-face in South Africa from 23 October to 1 December 2023 found that only 18.6% of those registered would support Malema for president (note, not prime minister as posted by End Wokeness – but who cares about the facts when there is agitation of the masses to be done, right?).

Perhaps Musk was alluding to an earlier interview with Imran Garda from the Turkish Radio and Television Broadcasting Corporation in 2018 (YouTube; South Africa’s Land Crusader), when Malema said he was not calling for the slaughter of white people, “at least for now”.


“I am saying to you‚ not under my leadership will we call for the slaughter of white people. I don’t know who is coming after me. I will not speak for them‚ but they (white critics) are alarmist‚ they are cry babies‚ they are attention seekers. No one is going to slaughter them‚” Malema said.

In South Africa, we are used to Malema’s hyperbolic and populist ways. That’s not to defend the man – he’d be disastrous for South Africa if he ever got anywhere near high political office. But we certainly don’t need some knight in shining armour, tapping away on his iPhone from the US and stirring up hostility, either, especially along race lines.

Read: The heavy metal drummer who cost Elon Musk $56-billion

Musk obviously thinks he is not bound by the same rules as those that govern mere mortals: responsibility for one’s statements or actions, fact-checking the basics or trying to ensure that one’s preoccupations don’t harm others – or whole countries.

In November, in a post on X, he wrote: “We will not allow agenda-driven activists, or even our profits, to deter our vision… Above everything, including profit, X works to protect the public’s right to free speech. But for speech to be free, we must also have the freedom to see or hear things that some people may consider objectionable. We believe that everyone has the right to make up their own minds about what to read, watch or listen to — because that’s the power of freedom of speech.”

Julius Malema. Image: EFF

But the degree of economic and political influence Musk has at his disposal is concerning. It’s extremely concerning when he takes to meddling in the politics of a country he isn’t even part of anymore.

But then Musk’s incendiary post probably has little to do with the country he was born in. It’s more likely about dropping bombs on his social network to drive up engagement by exploiting the naivety of the American right, including the Maga brigade. After all, stirring up emotions is good for business – and damn the consequences.  – © 2024 NewsCentral Media

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