EFF's national assembly disrupted by anti-Malema group

EFF members from Gauteng burn the candidate list at the party's national assembly while singing anti-Malema songs. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

EFF members from Gauteng burn the candidate list at the party's national assembly while singing anti-Malema songs. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The second day of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) national assembly was characterised by discord as the Gauteng block openly clashed with its leader Julius Malema.

The anti-Malema group from Gauteng disrupted nomination proceedings with songs after the EFF leader shot down concerns that were raised by a member from their group about the nomination process.

One member from the rebellious Gauteng group stood up during the nomination proceedings and complained about a pre-approved list of names of additional members doing the rounds, implying it was a slate approved by the newly elected EFF top six leaders.

But a visibly angry Malema took to the podium and said those who had complaints should raise them in writing through proper procedures.

“For now we’re taking nominations,” said Malema, “if the steering committee is of the view that the complaint is serious, it will take action,” Malema said to a loud applause from eight other provinces.

Malema objected to the clapping of hands by the majority of delegates who were in agreement with what he said pointing out that this would agitate anarchists in reference to the disgruntled Gauteng group.

Mngxitama declines nomination
EFF MP Andile Mngxitama declined nomination to serve on the party’s Central Command Team (CCT) in protest at the way Malema handled the concerns by the rebel Gauteng group. Mngxitama also declined nomination to serve as EFF deputy secretary general on Monday after he realised the numbers were not on his side.

“I am sorry, my president [Malema] … Please protect this movement. I don’t think my revolutionary consciousness can accept,” said Mngxitama to loud cheers from the Gauteng group.

Moses Masitha, from the Grace and Mercy Institute, which oversaw the election process, struggled to bring order to proceedings as the Gauteng group chanted anti-Malema songs.

Later during the proceedings Malema took to the podium again after Gauteng protested that members from the North West were given too many chances to nominate whereas they felt they were being ignored.

“Comrades from Gauteng I’m pleading with you and I ask your leaders to please control the membership of Gauteng.
All of you are going to get a chance to nominate,” said Malema.

But the Gauteng rebels objected and started singing anti-Malema songs again.

A few minutes before the conference break for commissions, the Gauteng rebel group walked out of the conference and started burning the so called slate list and EFF caps.

Disappointed
A visibly frustrated Malema expressed disappointment with the behaviour of the Gauteng group.

“People are allowed to lobby in conferences. They can do that without fear or favour. Once people come to a certain conclusion, there is nothing I can do. If you stand up in a conference and say I must protect the organisation, what do you expect me to do? We cant be blamed. These are elections. There are emotions involved. We just need to exercise patience,” said. 

He continued, “Now that the leadership has been elected, we hope that people will calm down. Those who burn things outside will only have themselves to blame. We are continuing with the conference. We are not going to nurse individual feelings. We are not running stokvel.

“Anyone who is hurt by democratic processes cannot blame us. There was no display of a list [of] preferred candidates. Who should we blame? This  [lobbying] is a matter coming from provincial leaders. What is wrong when the leaders say clarify some leaders?”. 

Malema told delegates from the eight remaining provinces: “Your safety is of paramount importance. We will protect you until you get home. No one will touch you. We congratulate those who have been elected. The organisation is still new. We have a lot to learn. But for me, this was a perfect process. Why would people accuse us when their preferred candidates are not nominated,” Malema said to a loud applause.

ML

ML

Matuma Letsoalo is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003, focussing on politics and labour, and collaborated with the M&G's centre for investigations, amaBhungane, from time to time.In 2011, Matuma won the South African Journalist of the Year Award and was also the winner in the investigative journalism category in the same year.In 2004, he won the CNN African Journalist of the Year prize – the MKO Abiola Print Journalism Award. Matuma was also a joint category winner of the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the year Award in 2008. In 2013, he was a finalist for Wits University's Taco Kuiper Award.
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