EFF on a roll after four years
Malema charms KZN as his four-year-old party seeks to grow itself into a major player in the populous province
The four-year-old Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) this week braved a hostile KwaZuluNatal armed with Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s blessings and the hope that party leader Julius Malema’s address would win hearts and minds. The province is known historically to have supported either the Inkatha Freedom Party or the ANC. New political organisations have not had the ability to attract sufficient supporters to survive. There is also a stubborn loyalty for President Jacob Zuma, which is an added hill to climb for those seeking votes.
Still, Malema – with little Zulu in his vocabulary – this week led his troops to the Zulu kingdom to mark the party’s fourth year of existence. The venue was decidedly smaller than what EFF fighters have grown accustomed to.
“This is not our province, we know that we can’t come here and embarrass ourselves,” one provincial leader said. National spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi insisted that police had an official head count of between 22 000 and 25 000.
Malema took to the podium oozing with confidence: “Don’t let anyone mislead you, the
EFF is growing,” he told the thousands who descended on the Curries Fountain Stadium yesterday.
“We are not here by coincidence. The rally celebrating the Black Consciousness [Movement’s] defeat of the Portuguese was held here. This venue is a meeting point of activists since the 80s. We want to remember history so we don’t betray the mission,” Malema said.
“It is where Cosatu was launched, the real Cosatu, not the one that sleeps with owners [referring to employers and management of companies].”
At a press briefing ahead of the big day, the party’s secretary-general Godrich Gardee boasted that the EFF had grown by 50 000 votes from the 2014 elections to the 2016 elections, proving that the party was growing in the province. For his part, Malema also boasted that, after a mere four years, the party had 827 councillors throughout South Africa.
Despite this, the party disbanded its provincial leadership structure in the province last year, saying that it had not achieved the expected results.
It seemed Malema had an alternative plan to grow the party’s support base in the province. The way to the hearts of the people of KwaZulu-Natal could be through their king. On Thursday, the EFF leadership made the trek to the royal palace on Zwelithini’s 69th birthday, bearing four pregnant cows and one bull in tow.
“We exchanged gifts with the king because that is how we roll,” Malema boasted.
Zwelithini accepted cattle and offered a stud of a bull in return to the EFF; Malema said they would keep the bull and allow it to procreate until the EFF’s 50th anniversary, where it would be slaughtered at a great feast.
“We accept the counsel of the king because he is an elder and we are still young. He can call us to order when he needs to,” he quipped.
The party leader also took some time out to take stock of some of the milestones achieved by the party in its short existence, listing the #PayBackTheMoney campaign, popularising the call for land and assisting civil society to find their voices against corruption in government. “Those who were calling us disrespectful in the beginning are today saying that Zuma must resign,” he said, singling out Blade Nzimande and the SA Communist Party.
He also took responsibility for his own transgressions, saying he had made a grave mistake by trusting in some leaders and warned supporters not to make heroes of people, but rather of the revolution – “tomorrow, Malema can sell out”. With 10 days to go before Parliament’s scheduled motion of no confidence in Zuma, Malema called on South Africans to rally behind the opposition in another national day of action where parties are planning a major shutdown.
“If [National Assembly Speaker Baleka] Mbete allows the secret ballot on August 8, South Africa will wake up to a new president on August 9,” he said.
He again claimed that he had spoken to more than 60 ANC MPs who told him they would vote for the president to be removed should the secret ballot be granted. Should Mbete deny the secret ballot, the EFF was already armed with court papers opposing a decision that Malema said would not be rational.
In closing the big address, the party leader encouraged the ground forces of the organisation to continue recruiting and working hard as they have been doing for the past four years.
“It will not be business as usual, continue to disrupt, revolution is the disruption.”
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REDVOLUTION Supporters at the EFF’s fourth anniversary celebrations in Durban yesterday