A few hundred activists of the South African radical left demonstrated Wednesday in Pretoria to demand that France, accused of post-colonial imperialism, leave the African continent.
In the colors of the party led by Julius Malema, the Fighters for Economic Freedom (EFF), wearing T-shirts and red caps with a logo in the shape of Africa, held up signs “France out”, “Wealth of France on the backs of Africans” or “Reparations for colonial crimes”. The demonstrators had disembarked in the morning in buses chartered by the party and gathered a few blocks from the French embassy, according to press reports.
“Fuck you France, fuck you”, chanted an activist on a stage set up on an open truck, the small crowd taking up the slogans in chorus before approaching the gates of the embassy, protected by a cordon of armed police.
Demanding to meet a French representative or risk blocking access, Julius Malema shouted into the microphone: “You have killed many people in Africa, why are you so afraid today?” He said he was addressing the “French white supremacists”.
In a brief appearance, the French ambassador, Aurélien Lechevallier, addressed the demonstrators, assuring, “We are friends of the African nations.”
In a statement, the embassy “recalled that France is a strong partner of South Africa” and that it “fully respects the integrity, sovereignty and independence of all African nations”.
Julius Malema, who attracts millions of poor and unemployed black youth to his ranks, is known for his outrageous outbursts. Declaring himself to be part of the anti-imperialist movement opposed to Europe and the United States, he recently gave strong support to Russia in its war with Ukraine.