Red row over alleged funds fiddle

Zolile Xalisa failed to make it to the list of the top 25 candidates the EFF hopes to send to the National Assembly and has resigned from the party. (David Harrison/M&G)

Zolile Xalisa failed to make it to the list of the top 25 candidates the EFF hopes to send to the National Assembly and has resigned from the party. (David Harrison/M&G)

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), rocked by fresh allegations of financial impropriety against its president, Julius Malema, by members of its central command, is doing damage control, dismissing the claims as the actions of disgruntled individuals.

EFF MP Zolile Xalisa made the latest allegations in a resignation letter at the weekend, claiming Malema had failed to account for R2-million a month collected in levies from councillors, MPLs and MPs.

Xalisa, who has since joined the African Transformation Movement (ATM), also claimed Malema had not accounted for about R20-million the party received from the legislatures every quarter.

But EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the EFF’s financials were in “perfect standing”.

He said Xalisa had left the party after failing to make the top 25 on the list of candidates for the National Assembly because he had lost popularity with the EFF’s branches.

“Xalisa seems to have a problem with the EFF five years later, after sitting in all its highest structures, only after not making it to the top of the parliamentary list,” Ndlozi said.

“The reality is that the man is disgruntled for not being pushed to the top of the list. He is calculating that he should be in the first 25 names as a current MP, but the internal democratic processes of the EFF resolved otherwise.

“There is no need for him to lie just because he did not win favour with branches,” he added.

In his public resignation, Xalisa accused Malema of failing to account for about R1.7-million a month collected in levies from the EFF’s 825 councillors. He said that, since the 2016 local government elections, each councillor had paid a levy of almost R2 000 a month.

“You [Malema] never reported about this money in the CCT [central command team] and the war council.
You refuse to be held accountable nor account about these funds,” he said.

Xalisa claimed that levies of just under R7 000 a person a month — totalling R427 000 a month — had been collected from the EFF’s 61 MPs and MPLs since 2014, with no proper accounting. The party further received R20-million a quarter from Parliament and provincial legislatures.

The money was meant to go into a constituency fund to be used by MPs and MPLs to do their constituency work, “but you took that money and serviced yourself and those in your proximity”, he said.

“You have never taken your collective into confidence about your expenditure of the EFF funds.”

Xalisa said the EFF’s constitution dictated “accountability from you [Malema] as the commander in chief [but] you used the EFF money in whatever way you deemed fit without consulting any of us”.

Xalisa accused Malema of “guillotining” central command team members by forcing them to pay “exorbitant” weekly deployment costs including car hire, accommodation, party T-shirts and food for supporters. “If that was not abuse and exploitation, you will never know what is.”

Ndlozi responded that “no one is forced to do anything in the EFF”.

“When you join as a member you pay a R10 joining fee that funds party activities. All of us are volunteers of the EFF. We all use our resources to build a movement we all love, but because Xalisa is here for personal material benefit, he believes the EFF should fund him and not the other way around.”

Xalisa’s resignation followed that of MP and central command team member Thembinkosi Rawula, who accused Malema of acting in a dictatorial manner and of financial irregularities.

Malema has indicated his intention to sue Rawula for defamation over his claim that he abused party funds. — Additional reporting by Thanduxolo Jika

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