EFF's Shivambu plays down war talk

Floyd Shivambu says Malema was warning the ANC against using soldiers to intimidate the EFF. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Floyd Shivambu says Malema was warning the ANC against using soldiers to intimidate the EFF. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Economic Freedom Fighters deputy president Floyd Shivambu has defended the party against accusations that it has no respect for the Constitution after its leader, Julius Malema, said, if provoked, the EFF was prepared to force the ANC government out of office through the barrel of a gun.

The party has previously been hauled over the coals because of their radical demand for the expropriation of land without compensation.

The EFF famously took President Jacob Zuma to court to force him to pay back a portion of the money used for security upgrades at his Nkandla home, but its leaders have now been described by some in the ANC as hypocrites in the light of Malema’s latest utterances.

In an interview this week, ahead of the party’s manifesto launch at Soweto’s Orlando Stadium on Saturday, Shivambu hit back at the EFF’s critics.

He said Malema’s statement that the party was ready to take up arms was a caution to the ANC government not to intimidate those who did not agree with the party by sending soldiers into communities, as it did during the 2014 general election.

“We know the ANC received less than 50% [of the vote] in Gauteng during the last elections. That’s why they sent soldiers to Alexandra at the time,” said Shivambu.

This week Police Minister Nathi Nhleko confirmed that treason charges against Malema were being investigated after the ANC opened a case against him at the Hillbrow police station on Monday.

Shivambu described the involvement of the police and state security ministers in the Malema case as “bizarre” and a “foolish political agenda”.

“We can’t be intimidated. There is nothing treasonous about what the commander in chief [Malema] said.

“If there is anyone who needs to be charged with treason, it is the ANC Youth League president Collen Maine, who called for a declaration of war against Malema and his ‘monkey supporters’,” said Shivambu.

He also watered down the party’s radical stance on the land issue, saying any land expropriation would be done within the confines of the law.

Previously, the party had said land should be expropriated without compensation.

“Our proposal is that it [expropriation of land] must happen through legal means. That is why we offered the ANC the 6% we won during elections to meet the required two-thirds majority to change the Constitution [in particular, the property clause].  We are thus far fighting within the confines of the Constitution,” he said.

Shivambu is expecting a positive turnout for the party’s manifesto launch on Saturday.

“It looks like we will have the biggest [manifesto launch] in South Africa for local government elections. We booked the Orlando Stadium because we know many people will attend.”

The ANC failed to fill up the 45 000-seater Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth earlier this month, and the Democratic Alliance’s manifesto launch was attended by about 20 000 people.

Shivambu would not reveal which municipalities the party was aiming to win, but said the EFF would have representatives in all municipal councils around the country.

The party was not prepared to reveal its mayoral candidates just yet because the aim was to sell the party, not individuals, to the voters.

Shivambu said the party’s key message in its local government election manifesto would be to push for a direct departure from the usual municipal functions.

“We will go beyond the normal role of municipalities by including economic transformation, skills development and training, and building a developmental state.

“If we win, we would not be referring issues to the next sphere of government, but municipalities would be given the capacity to deal with all issues,” said Shivambu.

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. Read more from Matuma Letsoalo

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