Opposition coalition against Zuma stutters
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has distanced itself from a formation of civil society and opposition parties, exposing cracks in a bid to bring President Jacob Zuma down.
In a letter, which City Press has seen, EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee writes that an agreement was not reached on the formation of the Freedom Movement, which was launched on Thursday in Soweto. The launch was addressed by United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa, DA leader Mmusi Maimane and political scholar Prince Mashele, among others.
The Freedom Movement said it had been established to protect the South African Constitution and to remove Zuma from office. It said the move had been endorsed by the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other opposition parties.
When asked about the absence of EFF leaders, Maimane said that the party was “supportive”, but that it would not be involved in every planned event as it was resource intensive.
Leaders of opposition parties met at the Premier Hotel at OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday to map a way forward after two mass demonstrations earlier this month in which thousands of South Africans took to the streets to call for Zuma to resign.
In Gardee’s letter – sent to opposition leaders following the press conference announcing the launch of the Freedom Movement – he said the formation of the Freedom Movement was not discussed.
“In the meeting on April 18 2017, no referral, at least an agreement, was reached to collaborate in the establishment of an alternative movement called the Freedom Movement. What was discussed was a collaboration to counter the government rally on April 27 with a rally or a march subject to delegates’ feedback on such an initiative from their leadership collective by no later than April 19,” the letter reads.
“The EFF wishes to distance itself from any notion or impression to associate the EFF with the establishment of the Freedom Movement, and disputes same as having been discussed and agreed to in the Tuesday meeting at Premier Hotel OR Tambo.”
This was not the first sign of trouble in the opposition camp. On Monday evening, the DA announced a march to the provincial Treasury office in Limpopo on Tuesday. The party said its demonstration would be joined by other opposition parties, including Cope and the EFF, but they were not represented.
Instead, a handful of people clad in DA regalia gathered in Polokwane and Maimane gave a brief speech. Other opposition parties said that not enough planning and consultation had gone into Tuesday’s demonstration.
Meanwhile, opposition parties are waiting to hear from the Constitutional Court if it will hear them out on a call for the use of a secret ballot in the motion of no confidence in Zuma. The motion was meant to be debated this past Tuesday, but was postponed pending the outcome of the court’s decision.
The launch of the Freedom Movement also included the announcement of the call for a national convention. Holomisa said that letters calling for participation had been sent to foundations, businesses and political parties, including the ANC.
He told City Press this week that the participation of the ANC in the national convention was key as it would bring with it funds as the governing party, and any resolutions made could be gazetted and made official.
Holomisa said that it would be clear to South Africans that the ANC no longer cared about the country if it chose not to participate.
“That’s fine. If they [the ANC] say no officially, it is good. Then South Africans will say: ‘Alright, how do we prepare for 2019 so that these resolutions are implemented in two and a half years?’ They will have to choose between the people and one man,” the UDM leader said.
“If, for instance, we say there must be electoral reforms, that people want to elect their president in 2025, we must start that process now. If the ANC says they don’t want to be part of this, we’ll go ahead with our manifestos collectively. Then we go to the people. These are the preparations that are under way for 2019; it has started.”