Malema: The Return
Johannesburg – The hype has been there – plenty of it – and now the “fighters for economic freedom” have been unleashed and are ready to battle for the hearts and minds of South African voters.
Julius Sello Malema, former leader of the ANC Youth League, is the Commander-in-Chief and national convener of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who seek to radically change the socio-economic landscape of South Africa through expropriation of land without compensation and nationalisation of mines and banks so as to right the wrongs of apartheid.
Last week, at the historically important Constitutional Hill in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, Malema announced the top brass of his movement, building on the clarion call he made on June 11 for the formation of a political movement.
And he announced: we are back!
Not least, he blustered: “It is cold outside the ANC, but we are making it warm”
“Those who thought we had disappeared should think again: we are back and we are even more radical,” he said.
But beyond a few notable names – controversial businessman Kenny Kunene, former Generations actor Fana Mokoena, ex-ANC member in the Free State Mpho Ramakatsa and expelled former ANCYL spokesperson Floyd Shivambu – the leadership is largely anonymous, which is the way that the EFF wants it.
Command teams of the 10 provinces of South Africa were also announced.
It is a movement whose character is “that of a radical, Left, and anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movement with an internationalist outlook anchored by popular grassroots formations and struggles and will always on the side of the people”.
“We are interested in ordinary people in squatter camps and villages and communities; ordinary people on the ground,” he told a packed Press conference.
Malema outlined EFF’s “seven non-negotiable pillars”, which include expropriation of South Africa’s land without compensation, nationalisation of mines and the economy; building of State and Government capacity, free quality social services, massive protected industrial development, massive development of the African economy and open and accountable and corrupt-free government and society.
He also said the EFF embraced the principles of human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms; non-racialism and non-sexism, universal adult suffrage, a national common voters’ roll, regular elections and a multi-party system of democratic government.
The movement is different from other political formations.
“We are different from Agang and all the other political parties,” he said, with reference to the newly formed political party led by struggle stalwart and academic Mamphele Ramphele.
“We are talking of expropriation without compensation – nobody has talked about that…about nationalisation of mines and nobody has talked about that, too.
“We are not like them (for) we are among the people not the elite or those who are used to power,” he said.
He said his movement was not recruiting anyone – lest it sees the pitfalls of position-jostling and was not interested in recruiting heavyweights like Tokyo Sexwale who was recently sacked as the Human Settlements minister.
Malema’s movement has been described in some quarters as a riposte for disgruntled former ANC members – some have called it the Educated Frustrated Fools.
He says it is not yet a party but a “protest movement” to tackle where the ANC has failed but come month-end, after a national conference, the world will know just whether the Economic Freedom Fighters will contest the elections slated for next year.
Malema said if the national conference decided to take on elections, EFF would be a “government-in-waiting” arguing there was not an issue he lost while in the ANC and was able to campaign for the presidency of Jacob Zuma in 2007 when the odds were stacked against him and his supporters.
He acknowledged his current troubles with the law, claiming that it was a conspiracy to cow him into abandoning his political projects and return to ANC on a bended knee.
“They will molest and victimise us but they will not succeed because we have the will. We are not material driven and they can take away everything – then what (will they do)?”
Malema has had his properties auctioned to settle tax evasion while he faces charges of fraud in the courts.
Whites will not be purged in the South Africa, as has been feared of the radical EFF.
“If you agree with us in redistributing the wealth of South Africa, you are welcome,” Malema assured.
“No one will be driven to the sea. South Africa belongs to all those who live in it but whites should be prepared to share or they will be forced to share,” he stated.
The EFF will join with any movement or organisations that share its vision and philosophy.
“But we can’t agree with the DA (Democratic Alliance) because it represents white monopoly capital, which is our main enemy,” he said.
The brand of politics that EFF will embrace will lead to the ostracisation of South Africa, should the EFF capture power, and the people should brace for the same.
“South Africa should prepare for the worst,” he said in response to a question.
“The capitalists will respond harshly. We do not underestimate them; we know they are very strong.
“There will be a time when you will wake up without bread and that will be the day you will know that how to make to your own bread home and you will realise that you do not need these people,” he said.
He predicted that the white monopoly capital would punish the country, as has happened in Zimbabwe where the country has been punished by sanctions and isolation by powerful countries.
He did not underestimate the power of white monopoly capital, but said it should also be assured of a strong fight from South Africans.
But, “revolution is about pain and revolution is pain,” he said.
Malema is talking again, and analysts here have been throwing conjectures as to what could be behind his comeback, seemingly against big odds.
Some have pointed at some powerful ANC men behind the scenes, a fact that on July 11 Malema seemed to acknowledge by saying that his movement was tapping from within the ANC, among other consultations, for ideology and strategy.