It was the second working day of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) for 2015 and their commander-in-chief was back at it, calling out President Jacob Zuma on the Eskom power crisis, vowing to make him repay the money spent at his Nkandla homestead – even if it involves disrupting the state of the nation address – and pledging to expropriate land.
There was a lot more certainty in the mood and voice of the EFF. The party held its national assembly in December, where it elected its new leadership. Now that the party has unveiled its new structure, its “Central Command Team” and “War Council” appear to have rolled up their sleeves, and are ready for battle.
It has hit back with a clear plan and a firm programme, which varies from holding the executive accountable, to encouraging land grabs.
With less than 30 days for the annual State of the Nation address, there is certainly some anxiety among ANC leaders and members of Parliament as to what the EFF’s next tactic will be in Parliament’s chambers.
Their “pay back the money” chants made headlines and it is pretty clear that they are nowhere near the end of that.
‘It’s a simple matter’
But from their side things are pretty clear. “We will see Jacob Zuma on the 12th of February and we will ask him for payment of the money which the public protector said he must pay,” said Julius Malema to a packed press conference at their Braamfontein headquarters.
It is a simple matter, Malema said; the rules of Parliament should be respected, Zuma must resume his answer to a question he was asked in August, and then the business of Parliament can continue.
But until then, Parliament will see chaos and disruption at its first sitting.
“Their arrogance is what put them in crisis. We are not scared of the ANC. We are not scared of Jacob Zuma. We are not scared of Baleka Mbete. We are not employed by the ANC. We were elected by our people to hold the executive responsible,” Malema, flanked by the other five national leaders of the EFF, said.
He accused Zuma of “playing with South Africans” by absconding from answering questions in Parliament.
“We are scared if we don’t hold him accountable, we won’t see him again. He proved not to take Parliament seriously,” Malema said, adding that the ANC was responsible for undermining Parliament.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa, and general secretary Gwede Mantashe, could not be reached for comment.
This is our land
It is not only Parliament where the EFF says they are ready to “wage war”.
“The same energy channeled against the state must be channeled against the private sector,” Malema said.
This includes planned “legal protests” in mining towns, and land occupation.
Malema was unapologetic once again on his stance that black South Africans should claim land without any compensation, lashing out against foreigners who own land in South Africa. He went on to say that people who “achieved land through black genocide” should not be rewarded.
“We are happy that Zuma said he is going to pay [for land]. We are not going to pay. We are going to lead people to expropriate land and Zuma is going to come and pay for it … We have no money to pay for land. We are going to occupy. This is our land.”
So serious is the EFF about land expropriation without compensation, that they are in the process of setting up a fund to assist those who are arrested for land grabs.
“It is not going to be our programme of action. It is a way of living.”
‘Everything for free’
Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwiniti said the EFF stands for “everything for free”.
“If they do that the law will act against them. There is no question. We do it for everybody. They would have broken the law and we will act,” he said.
Nkwiniti said the EFF is advocating anarchy and “they know it”.
But while the EFF leadership spewed names at Zuma such as “cowardly” and “indecisive”, Malema and co. face internal cracks which may well destabilise the party’s momentum.
City Press reported at the weekend that there was signs of factions within the party in the Free State.
“We won’t be held ransom by someone who was not elected. They use EFF resources and offices to establish another political party. They must have necessary courage and leave,” Malema said at the conference.
The City Press report also noted that ructions could be seen, with the party’s former commissar on land, Andile Mngxitama, asking Malema to stop the purge of members from the party.
“We have no time to be diverted by a lizard when we are fighting a crocodile,” Malema said.