Agents provocateurs? Juju in mystery funder’s crosshairs

Julius Malema’s claims of “agents provocateurs” and spies planted in his organisation by the ANC may not be so far-fetched after all.

An unidentified funder is behind a court challenge by a faction within the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) that is trying to win control of Gauteng. 

Supporters of Lufuno Gogoro claim he has been unfairly targeted by Julius Malema and prevented from running as chairperson of the province. Gogoro is a former leader of the party in the province and was ousted after a restructuring process by Malema. He is credited with building support for the EFF in Gauteng. The province delivered 40% of the EFF’s overall vote and is a key battleground for the new party.

A group trying to return Gogoro to power through the party’s new democratic process has hired a team of lawyers and advocates after, they claim, Malema tried to expel Gogoro from the EFF. The group almost interdicted the Gauteng People’s Assembly – EFF parlance for their provincial conference – from going ahead on Friday, fearing that Gogoro’s membership had been revoked. About 50 of their supporters from across the province were brought to the South Gauteng High Court to back Gogoro.

However, an affidavit from the EFF acknowledging Gogoro’s membership stayed their hand. But then the faction was chased out of the election gathering on the weekend, thanks to Gogoro being “disqualified” for contravening the party’s rules about campaigning, according to EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi. He also denied Malema ever tried to expel Gogoro.

Freezing of bank accounts
Now the group is planning further legal action. “We are going to set aside the Gauteng People’s Assembly and then also interdict the national assembly and also push for the freezing of EFF bank accounts so there won’t be any activity before they resolve the issues,” Gogoro told the Mail & Guardian.

Malema is convinced other forces are at play. He told journalists at a press conference shortly after the failed court bid on Friday: “It is a very organised group. It has senior and junior counsel and a team of lawyers and those things come at a serious cost, very expensive … We know that there are forces at play that try to destabilise the EFF.”

The M&G was present at a meeting with the faction and its team of lawyers and advocates. Malema may well be getting a taste of his own medicine. He has previously admitted he was part of similar initiatives to destabilise his opponents while he was in the ANC.

Asked how they were funding the court application, Gogoro initially told the M&G he had been contacted by an anonymous group calling itself “Friends of Julius Malema” that organised their lawyers and transport for their supporters.

“We have never met those people. What they did is communicate to us through phones,” Gogoro said. The group’s motives did not concern him – “all we want is justice”.

Professor Devan Pillay, from the University of the Witwatersrand, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the ANC was behind the attempts. “There is no way a liberation movement formed over 100 years ago that has mastered the art of disorganising the opposition would just stand by,” he said.

“The organisational style invites this sort of thing – there is a legitimate disgruntlement that the ANC can exploit,” said Pillay. “The EFF is trying to control the organisation from the top and when you get agent provocateurs coming in there is fertile ground to exploit.”

The ANC’s Zizi Kodwa denied that the ANC was funding the court bid.

Gogoro later told the M&G he was joking about the anonymous group and said Maxwell Mothlake, who was also kept out of the Gauteng conference, had sold his Audi TT to fund the legal application, in which he is also named. A Gogoro supporter confirmed that a car had been sold to cover the costs.

The group’s lawyers did not comment.

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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.

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