Julius Malema announces ambitious EFF plans
Bigger social grants, free education and no ministerial packages or tenders were among the promises the EFF made at its election manifesto launch.
Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters [EFF] has announced ambitious plans, promising to increase social grants for the elderly and disabled, war veterans and children by 100% while scrapping all ministerial packages if his party wins the general elections on May 7.
It plans to do away with the tender system and ban the usage of consultants and project management units as a basis of delivering government services.
Addressing more than 30 000 supporters at the Mehlareng stadium during the launch of the party's election manifesto on Saturday, Malema promised free education up to tertiary level. He said his party would use the proceeds flowing from nationalised mines and banks to fund education.
"We will give you free, quality education as it is the only solution to address poverty and inequality. We shall restore your dignity by giving you education," said Malema.
His party would make sure that 60% of the mines and the banks were in the hands of the state, he said.
"Our mission is to fight for economic freedom, to restore the dignity of our masses. We want to change the patterns of ownership in the country," said Malema to rapturous applause from thousands of red beret-clad supporters.
Other ambitious promises he made included increasing the salaries of civil servants by 50%, subsidising the taxi industry and housing finance for middle-income earners and passing laws that reduce 20 to 30-year housing loans to a maximum of 10 years.
The EFF government would build a state pharmaceutical company to produce medicines and distribute them to hospitals and clinics.
Malema said his party would build state administration courts to respond promptly to incidents of corruption, with the aim of firing and blacklisting corrupt state employees and private companies and recovering the money lost.
"EFF government will introduce a minimum of 20-years sentence for all public representatives and servants convicted of corruption."
Malema said no one from his party, himself included, would be allowed to lead or represent the party in Parliament after being convicted of corruption.
He said the EFF government would protect the independence of the public protector, the auditor general and all corruption watch institutions to oversee government programmes independently.
Leaders from the Azanian People's Organisation, the Socialist Party of Azania and the Pan Africanist Congress attended the event. Bantu Holomisa's United Democratic Movement and the National Council of Trade Unions sent messages of support.
The widows of the slain Marikana miners were introduced as special guests and called to the stage to speak to the masses.
Malema urged his supporters to go all out on May 7 and vote for the EFF in honour of the memory of the slain miners.
"Let's hear the battle cry of these widows. They are asking for your intervention. They are singing painfully because they have no one to support them anymore. They sing to tell you that even when their loved ones were killed, not one has taken responsibility," said Malema.
Earlier, the widows thanked Malema, who was among the first leaders to visit Marikana after the August 2012 shootings, for continuing to fight for the interests of the working class and the poor.
Malema lambasted the ANC government for failing to improve the lives of millions of "our people" who still leave in squalor.
"We know the people of Alexandra, Diepsloot and the Nelson Mandela informal settlement are still living in bad conditions. Our kids in these areas are eaten by the rats. Many people are disappointed by [the current ANC] leadership."
Malema told the Mail & Guardian soon after his speech that more than 60 000 EFF supporters had attended the event.
He told his supporters to stand by the party even if he was arrested or killed.
"We are beating them [the ANC]. We are everywhere in the country. This is a generation of fearless fighters. Even if I die or go to prison, other [EFF] leaders will lead you. They [EFF leaders] are very educated. You must trust them. They came together to form an alternative to the ANC.
"We have unveiled many Malemas today. They will never kill us all. They will never arrest us all. You must remain strong. When you think of retreating, think of Solomon Mahlangu, and the Marikana miners who were killed by the police. This is not for me. It is for our children. I may not live to see this freedom, but our children will see it," said Malema.
He took a swipe at the ANC for organising a parallel rally at the Makhulong stadium, about seven kilometres from his party's event.
"We did not rent a crowd. Neither did we buy the crowd with alcohol like the ANC. In this stadium [EFF stadium] are fearless fighters."