Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema says party members hoping for a seat in Parliament will have to adhere to strict conditions to earn their spot after the 2019 national elections.
The party has set stringent guidelines for those who make it onto its list of candidates for Parliament, which requires each member to meet set targets in the 2019 national elections before their seat can be secured.
Speaking to the Mail & Guardian ahead of the party’s five-year anniversary celebration in the Eastern Cape on Saturday, Malema said the tight system was being implemented to ensure that those who represented the party in Parliament were committed to the EFF’s growth.
“All individuals are going to be given targets and you need to demonstrate that you have achieved that, because we are not going to have some people working hard for others to go to Parliament,” Malema said.
He said party members who did not attend meetings, or actively campaign for the party and failed to do constituency work would fall foul of the conditions and risk being removed.
“You have to earn it for yourself and demonstrate at the end of elections that the assignment given to me I fulfilled, and [I] am deserving to sit in Parliament.”
Malema said the stricter guidelines mean candidates must sign a withdrawal letter that will allow the party to remove them from the list should it be found they have under-delivered on their allocated targets.
The EFF will celebrate its fifth anniversary at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane, near East London, and expects no less than 10 000 people to arrive.
The party’s strongholds have been Gauteng, Limpopo and North West but Malema said the EFF’s internal polls were showing changes in its national footprint that placed the Eastern Cape as its third-largest province after Gauteng and Limpopo. This, Malema said, proved the EFF was not limited to specific provinces or ethnic groups.
Ipsos polled the EFF at 7% support in next year’s elections, a minimal increase from its 6.35% in 2014. Malema said the poll at least showed that the party’s support was growing.
“The survey does not suggest in any way that the EFF is in decline or that the EFF has reached the ceiling. For us, any growth outside the election period is good progress for us,” he said.
The EFF leader did not think his statement that the majority of Indians were racist would alienate minority groups ahead of next year’s general elections.
His views of race have been heavily criticised. He came under fire for comments he made last month during an interview with Turkish news channel TRT World, in which he said: “We’ve not called for the killing of white people, at least for now. I can’t guarantee the future.”
Malema said he was not concerned about whether his utterances would alienate potential voters because those people he was calling out “don’t vote for us exactly for the reason of racism, they don’t vote for black parties. They didn’t even vote for Mandela.
“I’m not alienating anyone but even if I was, let the truth alienate those who live a lie. If you don’t want to vote for me on the basis of the truth and you want me to tell a lie I’m not going to do that.”
He said the EFF’s stance, especially on issues of land and the economy, was part of its appeal and success.
The land question is expected to be an important subject in the EFF’s election manifesto, which it plans to launch in January. It’s pushing for expropriation without compensation and for expropriated land to be under state control.
The ruling ANC disagrees with this position, with President Cyril Ramaphosa saying earlier this month that state control over land would pose an administrative nightmare.
But Malema dismissed Ramaphosa’s statements, saying that land under the custodianship of traditional leaders was already owned by the state because the institution of traditional leadership was an extension of the state.
“Traditional leaders are part of the state. They are paid by government and have persal numbers (numbers assigned to government employees). Even the Ingonyama Trust emanates from an act of Parliament; it is a state institution and is accountable to Parliament,” he said. “So the land owned by Ingonyama Trust is effectively owned by the state. I don’t understand what this debate is that the state can’t own the land.”
In the past few months the EFF has found itself forming cosy relationship with the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, which, although historically loyal to the ANC, has hinted at tightening relations with the EFF.
Malema said in the EFF’s quest to have land in state control, traditional leaders would have a role to play as one of the institutions that would oversee the use of that land in adherence to set parameters.
Speaking about the party reaching its fifth anniversary despite initial scepticism from many, including his former ANC colleagues, about its survival, Malema said: “We have come to appreciate that we can exist without those people [ANC leaders]. They said it was cold outside the ANC; it’s too hot outside the ANC. It’s so hot we are walking around with our vests. It’s lit outside the ANC.”