Party leader Julius Malema has revealed that the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) will work with the ruling ANC and even vote with them on issues of common interest.
Malema told journalists in Parliament on Sunday that the EFF – which won 25 seats in the National Assembly and is the second largest opposition party in Parliament after the Democratic Alliance (DA) – would not oppose the ANC for the sake of opposition.
“We are not the DA, we don’t oppose for the sake of opposing. Even when people raise their names and say: ‘I am Gedleyihlekisa Zuma’, you say ‘hayi you are not, you are Jacob Zuma’.”
Malema said despite being small in numbers, the party planned on bringing quality debates before Parliament. “When we stand up on a matter, it will be serious, substantial issues and issues of quality. That’s what we are here for, not to parade ourselves like we are in some beauty contest.”
He said if the ANC approached the party, saying it wanted to expropriate land without compensation – one of the EFF’s key policy proposals – it would support them.
At the swearing-in ceremony on May 21, EFF MP Andile Mngxitama told the Mail & Guardian if the ANC supported them on land expropriation, the party would be willing to work with them.
“We would work with anyone on the basis of our key questions.
“We [EFF] need a two-thirds majority to amend section 25 of the Constitution, commonly known as the property clause. This is what we are here for.
“We will do everything to change the property clause, so we have the expropriation without compensation. If there is any chance that we can find each other to amend the property clause, for which we need a two-thirds majority, we will absolutely do anything,” said Mngxitama.
“If the DA comes and wants to remove Zuma, we will support them. We have no problem. If the DA says we must vote Zuma out, we are going to do that. [But] if after voting Zuma out, they say we must vote Helen Zille in, we will refuse,” said Malema.
Malema went on to label Zille a racist, saying this was one of the reasons they would not support her election.
Malema also said the EFF would prioritise the mining sector and table a motion before Parliament to get involved in finding a lasting solution to the ongoing platinum sector strike.
The EFF would also table a motion proposing that parliamentarians not have free houses nor medical aid paid for them and should be compelled to use the public service over which they – as government – preside. Malema said this was because the EFF believed strongly that if the leadership of government was subjected to that arrangement, it would work hard to improve these areas.
In the meantime, he explained, the EFF would continue to enjoy those benefits. “For as long as that is not the law, we have no option but to continue using the available resources, which have been made available to us by Parliament,” he said.
He said: “If we come into Parliament where houses are being provided for MPs and we decide not to go and stay in those houses, it becomes wasteful expenditure because there will be empty houses unoccupied by the members of EFF, even though the government has paid for those houses. That would be irresponsible.
“What we are saying, and a motion will be put before Parliament, is [to] sell those houses and take the money to the needy people of Khayelitsha and then let every MP buy his or her own house,” he said.
“We are saying we are ready to abandon these benefits, we are not here for benefits but for as long as they are there, we will use them because there has been allocation for such.”
Malema said they were insisting that government executive should use government hospitals and schools because they would be upgraded and be of quality and that they will never be of quality unless government leadership uses them.
He said the EFF was going to force its members to use those hospitals if it were in government and had the power to improve the hospitals, for now it will not “force our members to go and die in hospitals”.
“Our commitment to EFF public representatives using public services is subject to EFF being elected into government,” said Malema.
It is no surprise that Malema – who started the nationalisation of mines debate when he was still the leader of the ANC youth league – was deployed to the mineral resources portfolio committee by the EFF. His close associate, Floyd Shivambu, was appointed as the party’s chief whip and would be its representative in the finance committee while long-time proponent of radical changes to land reform, Andile Mngxitama would serve in the rural development and land reform portfolio committee.
Malema took a swipe at Zuma’s new Cabinet for its size and competence, or lack thereof, according to him.
The EFF accused Zuma of attempting to accommodate as many of his loyalists as possible into high government life.
“South Africa has a population of 52-million people, with nine provinces which also have their own Cabinets. There is truly no need to have more than 22 individuals forming part of the Cabinet.”
Malema cited new Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana who, until last week, was the president of the National Union of Mineworkers, as an example of a deployed Zuma loyalist.
“As a minister of agriculture, come on, I don’t think he has anything to offer. The man is challenged, the man is a walking disaster, it is tokenism, it is patronage by Zuma to his loyalists.
“Imagine him and Bheki Cele in agriculture, I mean, what are they going to do? Is Bheki Cele going to shoot and kill fish?”
Malema said this was indicative of a leadership crisis in the ANC.
He said Zokwana was being rewarded for having threatened to march naked on the Goodman Art Gallery against the Spear.
“Zokwana took to the platform and said ‘we are going to march naked and we were like hawu, hey we don’t want to see those things of Zokwana’. He is now rewarded for demonstrating capacity to march naked.
“So you can see this country has become a joke. You want a Cabinet position, you must threaten to march naked and you shall be given a position in government,” said Malema.
Sunday was the last day of a three-day political induction for EFF public representatives, which included the 13 members who are representing the party across the nine provincial legislatures.