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09 Feb 2015 18:14
A group of 'EFF defenders' led by Lufuno Gogoro say that they are disgruntled, because the leadership is failing the organisation. (Delwyn Versamy, M&G)
There is a new bunch of Economic Freedom Fighters in town - but unlike the party’s loyal rank and file, they are united in their desire
to rid it of commander-in-chief Julius Malema.
Dubbed the “EFF defenders” and led by Lufuno Gogoro, the
party’s ousted Gauteng organiser, the group is made up of members and former
members who want Malema expelled.
With some calling themselves “members of the EFF in good
standing”, the group of about 10 held its first press conference in
Johannesburg today. It paints itself as the representatives of disgruntled
party members who have been “forced out” in the past year.
The group said there were many more disgruntled members
who could not be bussed to the press conference, but was unable to say exactly
As Malema prepares to tackle President Jacob Zuma in
Parliament during the president’s State of the Nation address on Thursday
night, the EFF defenders will be doing the same to Malema, according to Gogoro.
“We are not going to form any party, but we are going to
fight to rescue this organisation from Julius because they [the EFF leadership]
are no longer doing what they were mandated to do,” said Gogoro.
“We are also
going to be looking at going to the courts and discussing with our lawyers the
best way forward on that.
But the issue of forming a breakaway party or
organisation has not even entered our minds.
‘Light years ahead’The EFF has refused to be drawn into the matter, merely
stating that it “will not be responding to a breakaway claim” adding that it
“know[s] who these people are. We are light years ahead!”
Gogoro said the group would set out to mobilise displaced
members and bring them back into the party to help strengthen the fight against
“And also to defend their constitutional rights. Every
member has the right to be part of the political party and by ‘purging’
members, it means you don’t respect your constitution and you don’t respect
individual rights. So we are going to try to lure every member who is disgruntled
and those who have left to join us so that together we can fight and rescue
this organisation and make sure that the cushy politicians have no space to
Gogoro was ousted in June last year, a move that party
spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said at the time was “purely organisational” and
aimed at improving the overall functioning of the fledgling party’s structures.
Gogoro said the group was not attempting to damage the
EFF, because the party’s leaders had already done that – it was simply trying
to prevent further embarrassment.
At the EFF defenders’ press conference, there were also
some people wearing purple T-shirts with the words “New EFF” and the party logo
inscribed on them. Gogoro said these were people who had formed their own party
after they had left the EFF last year.
“We are also trying to win them back and bring them into
the party so they can join the fight. They decided to join us today at the
press conference because they feel our pain and have been right where we are.”
He said the EFF and the defenders would never turn into
another Congress of the People – the party formed in 2008 by disaffected ANC
members after Thabo Mbeki was removed as president – as they would not allow it
to disintegrate that far.
‘Why would we be happy?’“But we are saying if Julius wants to kill this movement,
we won’t allow it and it can only be the general members of the EFF who can
kill it. Not Lufuno, not Malema. Only those who have given up everything for
this organisation can dissolve it.”
He said people who had called them disgruntled and did
not take them seriously were now joining the fight.
“Yes, we are disgruntled, because the leadership is
failing the organisation. Why would we be happy?”
The EFF, refused to be drawn on the defenders’ press
conference, but tweeted halfway through it, saying: “The EFF constitution
demands of members to observe a unified discipline. The individual is
subordinate to the organisation.”
Meanwhile, the party says it will not back down from its
plan to get Zuma to answer questions on Thursday related to the money spent on
his home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.
Ndlozi said the party would not wait until the date the
president has set aside to answer questions as it wanted to “demonstrate the
power of the Constitution”.
Read more from Thulani Gqirana
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