DANGEROUS SPEECH: Julius Malema. Photo: MIKE HUTCHINGS/REUTERS

As Julius Malema’s intentions are being questioned by the media, he is fighting back.

Not with evidence, logic, or great arguments, but rather with ridicule, creating suspicion and threats of physical violence.

Last week, he named several journalists and media outlets, saying the EFF will no longer give them interviews.

He is pretty much following the script written by American President Donald Trump, who has no patience with media outlets who question him and dare to ask him critical questions.

Of course, after Trump labelled opposing media as enemies of the state, he loudly wondered why a madman went on a shooting spree inside a newspaper newsroom, killing five journalists.

While the shooting was unrelated, it was Trump’s hostility towards the media that created the environment for something like that to happen.

Addressing supporters last week, Malema spoke about coming “casualties” and “loss of life” in their fight against Pravin Gordhan and what he calls the “Ramaphosa Defence Force”.

In doing so, Malema is starting to create a similar atmosphere for journalists here in South Africa. His supporters are angry and borderline fanatical and are very likely to take his words literally.

And that alone should give us reason to question Malema’s suitability as a leader.

While Jacob Zuma was no fan of the media, he was prepared to defend what we do as an essential pillar of a democracy.

As the media, we may not always get it right, but our industry provides recourse and checks and balances and Malema knows that.

But like Trump, he also knows his supporters will believe anything that comes out of his mouth because it validates their own worldview.

It is our job to guard our democratic freedoms jealously, especially the freedom of the press.

Because without it, men like Malema who get a taste for power, go on to do and say whatever they have to, in order to get more power.