EFF launches its election manifesto

Floyd Shivambu, Julius Malema and Mpho Ramakatsa stand to sing the national anthem at the EFF's election manifesto launch. (M&G)

Floyd Shivambu, Julius Malema and Mpho Ramakatsa stand to sing the national anthem at the EFF's election manifesto launch. (M&G)

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) manifesto launch at Mehlareng stadium in Thembisa on Saturday signalled another telling shift in the alignment of left-leaning parties.

The launch was marked by heavy flirting between the EFF and other left-wing organisations, and "advocate of the people" Dali Mpofu promising some major announcements in the near future.

The event, which police estimated drew about 50 000 people, many of them representing various parts of the country, featured representatives from the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM), the Azanian People's Organisation (Azapo), the Socialist Party of Azania (Sopa) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC).

There were messages of support from the National Council of Trade Unions and the Democratic Left Front. 

Most telling were comments from PAC deputy president Mike Muendane.

Freudian slip
After admonishing those who were sleeping through a revolution by "failing to see the importance of today", Muendane went on to say "we will take back the land of this country – that's what we'll do as the EFF".

Whether this was some kind of a Freudian slip, or a taste of things to come, could not be confirmed definitively by those in attendance wearing PAC T-shirts.

EFF members hand out water to supporters. They did the same at their party launch in Marikana.

A group of supporters from Thokoza seated inside a bus said that "the EFF had been there to support the PAC's manifesto launch in the Eastern Cape" and that is why they were in Thembisa, to return the favour.  

"We share something in common, which is our drive for economic freedom and nationalisation, so we have the common goal of socialism," said one.
"That's why even Azapo and the BCM are here. I can't speak to you about our future, but all I can say is that we are comfortable around each other."

The BCM's Nkosi Molala said: "The big thing here is that the EFF has been able to do what our structures were not able to do. Even now we're still working as factions, the EFF has brought a platform of bringing all people together."

Look of the future
Sopa president Lybon Mabasa said the EFF represented the future of and a new possibility for South Africa and Sopa "was not afraid to associate with anybody who said the land must be returned to its owners and that the mines must be nationalised … The EFF can be assured of our support."

In the past, the EFF has bragged openly about its formation "decimating" pre-existing left formations.

In the words of party commissar Andile Mngxitama, Malema has left many left-wing formations in a situation where it was "useless and childish to insist on developing a politics outside of the space he was operating in, because he had already appropriated our agenda, our politics".

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi

Mngxitama, who had a hand in the manifesto process, came from the relatively small grassroots formation of people's movement September National Imbizo, which was subsumed by the EFF.

In its recent history, the EFF has managed to rub up some left-wing formations the wrong way, with talks between the party and the Workers and Socialist Party (Wasp) collapsing because of disagreements about policy and nature of the merger.

At the time, Wasp leader Mametlwe Sebei said: "Their [the EFF's] position is nationalisation to bring sectors of the economy into state control, which doesn't resolve the problems of the working class. It only poses the question of who owns the state and who benefits?" 

Ticking boxes
In his speech, Malema ticked all the right boxes, promising a minimum wage of R4 500 for every worker and echoing the Marikana clarion call of R12 500 as a minimum wage for mineworkers.

Malema promised to, generally, double social grants, which resonated with many of the unemployed in the audience.

The party's national and provincial structures include some of Malema's former ANC Youth League colleagues.

In the national structure, Malema is commander in chief (CIC) while Floyd Shivambu is responsible for research, policy and political education. Mpho Ramakatsa is the EFF's national co-ordinator, Andile Mngxitama is in charge of international relations and solidarity, and Fana Mokoena takes on the arts, culture and heritage portfolio for the party.

Shivambu was introduced as chief of staff while Andile Mngxitama was introduced as comissar in charge of land and agrarian reform.

Kwanele Sosibo

Kwanele Sosibo

Kwanele Sosibo studied journalism at Durban's ML Sultan Technikon before working at Independent Newspapers from 2000 to 2003. In 2005, he joined the Mail & Guardian's internship programme and later worked as a reporter at the paper between 2006 and 2008, before working as a researcher. He was the inaugural Eugene Saldanha Fellow in 2011. Read more from Kwanele Sosibo

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