EFF set to form structures for women and youth

The EFF says its women and youth groups will do more than those of the ANC. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

The EFF says its women and youth groups will do more than those of the ANC. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

With the 2016 elections around the corner, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is planning to launch powerful women and youth structures to fill the gap left by the ANC’s ailing leagues.

The party is currently holding its inaugural conference in Mangaung and has set itself an ambitious target to reach a membership of one-million before the 2016 elections. Its current membership stands at 527 000.

Newly-elected EFF general secretary Godrich Gardee said in an interview on Monday that the party would put together a strong team to deal with challenges facing women and the youth.

“The ANC Youth League does not exist anymore. The same applies to the ANC Women’s League.
All that they do is to throw panties,” said Gardee in reference to a recent incident where members of the Limpopo ANC Women’s League put panties on their heads to protest against the ANC provincial secretary Nocks Seabi, who they accused of pushing a close ally for one of the top positions within the league.

Not in competition
Gardee said the decision to form the women and youth leagues was not because the EFF was in direct competition with the ANC, even though the EFF was targeting the ANC’s historic constituency in informal settlements and rural areas.

“The EFF is an organisation that is interested in contesting power. We are aware of the challenges that are facing the youth and women constituencies. You need a dedicated team to work with those constituencies. It is not about competition with any party,” said Gardee.

When delivering his political report on Sunday, EFF leader Julius Malema suggested the ANC Women’s League was only in existence to attend court actions of celebrity offenders like paralympian Oscar Pistorius, who was convicted of culpable homicide.

“We, therefore, need to organise women of the EFF into a Women’s Command with the necessary autonomy to pursue political programmes, and not just attend court actions of celebrity offenders,” said Malema.

He added that within the broader collective, the EFF should be at the forefront of struggles that seek to liberate rural women, and their battles with access to land. “The EFF Women’s Command should be at the forefront of the struggle for the provision of free sanitary towels to all women who cannot afford.”

“The EFF Women’s Command should lead society in the ideological and political analysis of cultural practices that undermine the rights of women. The EFF Women’s Command should fill the vacuum that exists because, truth be told, there is no women’s organisation in South Africa,” said Malema.

Youth Body
In addition to the Women’s Command, Malema said the EFF would also establish an autonomous youth body that would ignite young people’s interests in politics and the revolution.

“The EFF Youth Command should be a vibrant and fearless organ of the EFF, and should be granted the necessary autonomy to act with the necessary youthful exuberance, and feed the EFF with the next layer of leadership,” he said. Malema said the EFF Youth Command would take up community struggles and fight for youth development and be the torchbearers in the struggle for economic freedom.

“In the history of political developments, it has been proven that revolutions are activities of the youth. We therefore need to organise the youth into a Youth Command with their own constitution, programme of action and youth assemblies to elect leadership at various intervals,” said Malema.

The ANC Youth League has been leaderless since the mother body disbanded it in 2013. Earlier this month its elective conference was reduced into a mere consultative forum amid allegations of political interference by senior ANC leaders.

The ANC Women’s League has also been accused of failing to tackle issues that are facing women. It has not held an elective conference in more than five years. The League postponed the elective conference that was to be held this year to April 2016. 

Some political observers believe the ANC’s poor showing during this year’s polls was as a result of weaknesses in its leagues.

Matuma Letsoalo

Matuma Letsoalo

Matuma Letsoalo is the political editor of the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003 and has won numerous awards since then, including the regional award for Vodacom Journalist of the Year in the economics and finance category in 2015, SA Journalist of the Year in 2011, the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the Year award in 2008 and CNN African Journalist of the Year – MKO Abiola Print Journalism in 2004.
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