In his closing address, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema warned the party’s 4 000 delegates against the factionalism that had seemingly infiltrated the EFF’s second policy and elective conference.
On the fourth and last day of the conference, Malema criticised delegates for celebrating the losses of a rival slate, which saw former EFF national chairperson Dali Mpofu fail to garner enough support to contest the position of deputy president of the party.
Floyd Shivambu received overwhelming support from delegates to continue in this position.
During his closing address, Malema asked: “What are you celebrating? You defeated Dali Mpofu where? Which Dali Mpofu did you defeat?
“There is no Dali Mpofu who is defeated here. There is no one who was defeated here. There is no one who won here. The EFF won this conference,” he said to riotous applause.
Malema told delegates that there is nothing more to celebrate, “there is time to work now”.
He warned that the EFF should not start off with “wrong tendencies”.
Two days prior, a slate backed by the so-called “Amatorokisi” faction was elected unopposed, after members of the rival slate could not get the necessary 30% of delegates to cross the threshold.
In the lead-up to the conference, insiders and commentators touted a heated contest between Mpofu and Shivambu as they battled it out for deputy president of the EFF.
Mpofu was joined on the rival slate by EFF Gauteng chairperson Mandisa Mashego, who was nominated to contest the position of secretary general. EFF MP Marshall Dlamini ultimately secured the position after his nomination received support from the large majority of the delegates in attendance.
Mpofu’s and Mashego’s losses were each met with loud celebrations from the floor.
Malema again criticised delegates for this, saying they had acted like fanatics. “I look at this and say, ‘What is this? Who is this person that you are celebrating that she didn’t get a threshold?’” he said.
“How do we see each other? Because we should see each other as brothers and sisters who help each other.”
Malema added: “We don’t want fanatics.”
During his closing address, Malema also lambasted EFF members for “personalising” their political wins by thanking God for their positions in the party. The criticism appeared to be aimed at Naledi Chirwa, who reportedly asked for the blessing of flamboyant preacher, and leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering church, Shepherd Bushiri before she was made an EFF MP following the May general elections.
A video of Chirwa receiving the blessing from Bushiri has been circulated on social media.
“Don’t go to church and thank God for these positions. They are not yours. Thank God for your degree. Thank God for your Masters [degree]. Thank God for the EFF … Once you do that you are personalising it,” Malema said.
The closing address marked the second time Malema had intimated his unhappiness with Chirwa.
On Sunday morning, in response to delegates kneeling in front of him and other top six leaders, Malema said: “You will do those things of kneeling there before Bushiri because some of you even thank him for taking you to parliament. I’m not your father. Papa, papa Bushiri …Slaughtering goats saying you’re in parliament because of your ancestors, personalising political responsibilities.”
On Monday, Malema reiterated that the EFF is building an “organisation based on principles of collective leadership that the pain of my fighters is my pain”.
“We have to die next to each other. We have to protect each other. We must go to prison together. We must go to exile together We must fight the enemy together,” he said.
Malema also warned delegates of creeping “opportunism” within the party’s ranks.
To this end, Malema said the EFF will not be submitting any PR lists to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) for the upcoming local government elections in 2021. The party will instead be submitting names of potential ward candidates to the IEC, he said.
“In the previous local government elections we had a problem of hard working ward candidates losing their wards and the lazy ones on the PR lists going inside the[municipal] council on the votes of those who were ward candidates,” Malema said.
Pointing at the delegates he added: “If you want to go back to being a councillor start tomorrow visiting communities. Start working hard … we don’t want people who survive out of the sweat of others.”
The party is also planning to become government in three major SA metros; Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay. In 2016, the EFF became a kingmaker in all three metros. The party decided to use their position to vote with the Democratic Alliance (DA) in all metros where no party won an outright majority. Their decision saw DA myors being elected in all three metros.
By this year however this arrangement fell away with the EFF deciding to withdraw its support of DA mayors resulting in ANC Johannesburg Chairperson, Geoff Makhubo being elected mayor.
In Nelson Mandela Bay, the United Democratic Movement’s Mogameli Bobani was elected as mayor in 2018 following the EFF’s withdrawal of its support of the DA’s Athol Trollip. In Tshwane, the EFF supported a motion of no confidence against mayor Stevens Mokgalapa earlier this month, accusing him of not attending to service delivery issues, including the water crisis in parts of the capital.
Malema told delegates that the rise in coalitions in the country shows that “the people are tired of the ANC”. He then told delegates from KwaZulu-Natal to “zoom-in” on Ethekwini municipality where former mayor, Zandile Gumede has been embroiled in various corruption scandals.
“The votes that Ethekwini gave us show us that the people are ready for the EFF and if you are going to play, we won’t get that municipality,” he said.
“If you know what is good for you, you will go tomorrow and reclaim the votes of the EFF,” Malema instructed the Gauteng delegation. “Otherwise that [Ekurhuleni mayor] Mzwandile [Masina] is going to win in 2021 and we don’t want that.”