With all the top six positions up for grabs, the student wing of the Economic Freedom Fighters is backing a “contestation” slate as the party heads to its second elective and policy conference this weekend.
The slate, which puts EFF national chair Dali Mpofu in a top position, will go against a “unity” slate of members of leader Julius Malema’s inner circle — including Floyd Shivambu.
A high-placed insider revealed that the EFF Student Command (EFFSC) — which Malema has openly criticised, suggesting that its fate hangs in the balance — will be backing Mpofu and the “contestation” slate, which seeks to disrupt the status quo and the centralised power of the leadership.
This information is backed up by controversial one-time EFF student command presidential contender Kamvelihle Goba, who told the Mail & Guardian he is confident Mpofu will secure a top spot. The student command has little voting power, with only two delegates at this weekend’s elective conference, though calls for its disbandment have sown seeds of division in the party.
According to the source, there are only two real top-six slates fighting it out this weekend. All positions, including the presidency, are up for grabs, he said. Malema is included in both slates, which may end up compromising on certain positions, if push comes to shove.
The so-called “unity” slate wants Shivambu to stay as deputy president of the party. It has put up EFF MPs Marshall Dlamini and Veronica Mente as secretary general and national chairperson, respectively. Mente is on both slates.
The slate proposes senior party members Poppy Mailola as deputy secretary general and Omphile Maotwe as treasurer general.
Reports have said this slate emanates from what has been dubbed the “Amatorokisi” faction.
The rival faction pits Mpofu against Shivambu and is lobbying for EFF Gauteng chair Mandisa Mashego to go up against Dlamini. The faction wants Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi to retain her position as deputy secretary general and Rendani Munyai to step in as treasurer general.
A faction reportedly backing Mpofu has been referred to in reports as “Amapiano”, although the insider said the grouping named after the electronic music genre represents a third “fringe” faction.
Goba said the scandals that have plagued Shivambu — including allegations he benefited from the looting of VBS Mutual Bank — have seen him fall out of favour among party members. He said “comrades” are throwing their weight behind Mpofu because “he is the voice of justice, the voice of reason. He is the only cadre in the CCT [central command team] who will take a call from an ordinary branch member”. He added that Mpofu does not inspire fear in members who take positions that differ from the party line.
In September, Malema said at a press briefing that Goba — who has a chequered past that includes being accused of rape and assault — was not an EFF member.
Two months earlier, Goba was involved in a punch-up with current EFF secretary general Godrich Gardee on the ground floor of the party’s headquarters in Braamfontein. The fracas was caught on the building’s CCTV cameras.
Goba rebuffed the rape allegations against him, accusing feminists in the command of using these claims to “problematise” him among the EFF leadership.
He said “you can’t allow this liberal feminism that is sweeping across these white institutions … to infiltrate the structures of the student command”.
The move to disband the command has inspired prominent party members to come to its defence, including KwaZulu-Natal leader Vusi Khoza who, according to Sunday World, leads the faction backing Mpofu.
After Malema suggested the structure should be disbanded during a November press conference, Khoza took to Facebook to defend the students, writing: “We are the EFFSC and the EFFSC is us. We know that the 425% increase in electoral support in KZN in Elections 2019 was a direct result of #Uphephela. Lest we forget!”
But student command president Mandla Shikwambana has opted for diplomacy amid disbandment calls, telling the M&G that he appreciates Malema for opening the debate about the future of the command.
“It would be wrong to say there are divisions between the EFF and the EFF Student Command. Ideas must be debated,” he said, adding that the student command will ask delegates to consider voting members from its ranks into the CCT.
Shikwambana also called for discipline from the student command in the run-up to the conference.
“We are hoping that the conference will give us leaders who will see a need for a generational mix in the EFF,” he said. “The generational mix of the EFF must be different to the generational mix of the ANC.”