Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) president Julius Malema has called on South Africans to reject the governing party’s t-shirts, social grants and RDP houses and vote for a “permanent solution” to poverty in South Africa.
Addressing the EFF’s Tshela Thupa rally at Orlando stadium in Soweto, Malema said the ANC had “forgotten the children of the poor” saying that the sitting government viewed poor people as “nothing”.
The ANC, he said, was happy to turn South Africa into a “zombified nation” of people who had no option to accept welfare to stay alive because they had no education and no job.
“Why are you bragging about social grants? Let’s brag about how many have graduated this year, how many jobs we are giving them,” the EFF president said.
“Our people don’t want social grants, they want jobs, they want better salaries.”
Appealing to people to come out in numbers, Malema said that those who did not vote because of disillusionment were “giving you votes to the ANC” by staying away from the polls.
Malema told the packed stadium the EFF would provide free education; land and better jobs if it came into government, saying that an EFF government would professionalise the civil service, paying teachers, police and other civil servants competitive salaries to provide proper services.
Malema said South Africans were “compromised by t-shirts” which they were given at election time and which made them forget their struggles and the issues they parties’ broken promises.
Malema called on the police to “do the right thing” and vote for the EFF, saying they should not be shooting black people for protesting but rather “criminals” like ANC secretary general Ace Magashule.
Malema said that ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, like his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, should be in prison and not in the Union Buildings.
The ANC, he said, was “shaking” because of the growth of the EFF, which he described as “beautiful”, saying that those who “gave us one year” had been proven wrong.
Malema said the ANC continued to oppress women, quoting the example of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, saying that the ANC had made Zuma president despite its knowledge of his wrongdoing because he was a man.
Malema called on young white South Africans to vote for the EFF, saying the party was not fighting to oppress white people, but for black people to be equal with whites.
“We are not fighting against whites,” he said. “We are fighting for black people to be equal.”
Malema said land ownership had to change to ensure that productive farms were in the hands of black people while the economy needed to change to ensure that black people beyond the elite were involved in the economy.
At the beginning of his address, Malema thanked the EFF and the rest of South Africa for their support after the death of his grandmother, Koko Sarah Malema, on Saturday.
“Your condolences have kept the family going. We thank you for your support. My grandmother meant everything to me. I am because of her. If it were not for her contribution, I would not be here,” he said.
The EFF rally was a major show of strength by the party — currently the third largest in Parliament — which has pulled impressive numbers of supporters at all of its campaign events since its manifesto launch at Mabopane, Pretoria in February.
The party packed the Orlando stadium to the rafters, with the area outside the stadium filled with buses and stalls set up by vendors who had arrived early in the day, ahead of the first party supporters, also painted red with EFF flags.
While the event kicked off later than scheduled — the delay was attributed by organisers to the late arrival of a large number of buses from KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and other provinces — the EFF had no problem in filling up the 40 000 seater stadium to capacity.
The build-up to Malema’s speech was punctuated by performances by a number of popular local artists, while a contingent of motorcyclists in party colours had the crowd on its feet as they waited for him to arrive.