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

CityPress - - News - S’THEMBILE CELE sthem­bile.cele@city­press.co.za

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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PHOTO: SIYANDA MAYEZA

REDVOLUTION Sup­port­ers at the EFF’s fourth an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions in Dur­ban yes­ter­day

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