EFF and ANCYL to face off in Tembisa

EFF leader Julius Malema started the party with other ousted members of the ANC Youth League on a radical policy platform. (Paul Botes, M&G)

EFF leader Julius Malema started the party with other ousted members of the ANC Youth League on a radical policy platform. (Paul Botes, M&G)

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are set to go head to head with the ANC Youth League at competing events a few kilometres apart on Saturday in Tembisa. 

The EFF began a media campaign about the manifesto launch a few weeks ago, which will take place at Mehlareng Stadium in Tembisa on Saturday morning. 

The party promised to outline how it aimed to finance its plans once in government. 

"We will indicate where the financing of such priorities will come from," said Malema in an interview last week. 

Meanwhile, the youth league decided to also organise a "youth vote festival" about 3km away at the Makhulong Stadium, youth league convener Mzwandile Masina told the Mail & Guardian.

The event will feature Malema's predecessors in the league, Malusi Gigaba and his former supporter Fikile Mbalula. 

"It's about elections, and encouraging young people to vote. It's our contribution as youth league leaders," said Masina.

He insisted the timing was not a provocation to the EFF. "That's another party, they are in another stadium, we are in another stadium.
We planned it a long time ago, as part of our election campaigning, it has nothing to do with the EFF."

No information
The youth league's event has been less well-publicised, with no information on their website, and Masina was defensive when asked about it. 

"We are campaigning in Tembisa because it's part of South Africa, why are you asking?" he responded when first asked for details about the rumoured event. 

The EFF did not appear to know about the competing event when interviewed last week, and were not available to comment on Monday regarding the league's event. 

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told the M&G last week that the party had chosen Tembisa as a venue because it had one of the highest EFF membership figures in Gauteng. 

"We're expecting tens of thousands," he said at the time. 

A spokesperson for Tembisa police station would not reveal which party had alerted them about their event first, saying it was confidential information. But another senior police officer said clashes between the two parties were expected.

"There will be police available in both venues to monitor both situations."

Past clashes
Supporters between the two parties have already clashed several times, often violently.

ANC members threw stones at EFF supporters in January when the EFF tried to hand over a house they had built near President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla residence. ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa later condemned the violence and police took quick action at the time. 

In a more serious incident, two school pupils were shot during clashes between the parties in Zenzele informal settlement in November last year. It was unclear which party started the violence or was responsible for the shooting.

EFF has also accused the ANC of disrupting its meetings and even poisoning a poet linked to the party, Bigg Dogg, and dumping him in a river. The ANC has denied the claims.  

Malema was expelled from the ANC and his position as youth league leader in April 2012 after a lengthy disciplinary process, following his falling-out with the party's top brass after mobilising for the removal of Zuma. He was found guilty of sowing divisions within the ANC.

Malema went on to form the EFF with other ousted members of the youth league on a radical policy platform, and the party is the first credible threat to the ANC from the left, analysts have said. 

The youth league had all its structures effectively dissolved and is being run by a task team that is trying to rebuild the organisation, though it has its own financial battles with a provisional liquidation and a lack of political clout with leaders, like Masina, who are unelected. 

Organising meetings close to those of political competitors is a disruptive technique that has made an appearance in South Africa before. Malema, in his time as youth league leader, was accused of using the tactic, particularly by members of the Congress of the People ahead of the 2009 elections.

Verashni Pillay

Verashni Pillay

Verashni Pillay is the former editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian, and inaugural editor-in chief of Huffington Post South Africa. She has worked at various periods as senior reporter covering politics and general news, specialises in mediamanagement and relishes the task of putting together the right team to create compelling and principled journalism across multiple platforms.  Read more from Verashni Pillay

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