/ 26 October 2020

EFF eyes municipalities ahead of 2021 local government elections

On the second day of the EFF’s National People’s Assembly on Saturday
Red sea: The EFF has struggled to get the positive sentiment it gets at events, rallies and on social media to translate into actual voters at the polls. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are preparing to become the governing party in many municipalities ahead of the local government elections next year. 

Speaking at a press briefing this afternoon — after the party’s central command team meeting over the weekend —  EFF leader Julius Malema said the party was targeting winning all municipalities in the local government elections.

The 2016 local government elections saw the party become a kingmaker in 13 hung councils including three metros: Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg. 

But, speaking today, Malema said next year was the year the party will govern in municipalities. 

“Next year is going to be the beginning of ushering in the government of the EFF, which will benefit our people, both black and white, but [with] more emphasis on the previously disadvantaged black people. So that is who we are and that is what we are going to do,” he said.

Malema added that the party had adopted a framework with which to contest the local government elections, which would be finalised when the EFF held its election strategy workshop.

“Our determination and focus is on preparations of the EFF for government because in 2021 the EFF will win a significant amount of votes in different municipalities across the country,” Malema said.

He added that the party was working on a programme to defend the rights of farm workers, who continue to live in squalor on farms and are the most exploited section of society. 

He said branches of the party will be visiting and engaging with farm workers as a way of finding solutions to their plight. 

“We know that farm workers continue to be mistreated and abused by their employers and we will call an end to the abuse and mistreatment of farm workers. As part of this programme, we will table a draft resolution in parliament proposing [the] establishment of commission of enquiry into the [living] conditions and remuneration of farm workers.”

Malema said, unlike the public perception that people who lived in informal settlements had it the hardest, it was farm workers who lived in the worst conditions. 

He said farm dwellers did not enjoy basic living conditions, such as access to water, electricity and sanitation.

 “We need to investigate the conditions of farm workers and we need to come up with clear, binding recommendations that will tell everyone [that] for you to have a farm, these are the conditions you must adhere to, otherwise the farm must be closed.

“For you to say ‘I have a farm’, you must have an irrigation system, you must have tractors, you must have a kraal, you must have all this for you to be a farmer. Among other things which you must spend money on is the living conditions of the farm workers.

“If you cannot provide clean water, what type of racism is this? What type of inhuman conduct is this? Where you sit with your wife and your children, drink water and have electricity but five or 10 metres away from your house there are people without water and they are not allowed to drink with you. That must be dealt with.”

He also praised EFF members who protested in Senekal last week. The party had gone to the Free State town after a police van was burnt down outside the Senekal magistrate’s court and gunshots were fired at the courthouse by white farmers who were angry about the murder of a farm manager, Brendin Horner. 

This incident took place when two men arrested for the murder of Horner appeared in court. Two suspects have since been arrested for participating in the violence and have been released on bail. 

Meanwhile, one of the accused in the murder, Sekola Matlaletsa, was released on bail last week; his co-accused, Sekwetje Mahlamba, was denied bail. 

Malema said, by going to Senekal, the EFF demonstrated that it is “only solid, dependable and courageous revolutionary movement” in the country. 

“When cowards were afraid to confront the white terrorists and thugs who burnt police vehicles and shot [with] guns inside a court of law, the EFF took a correct revolutionary stance to stop the nonsensical conduct of the terrorists.”

The EFF has also warned companies who have failed to pay workers money they claimed from the unemployment insurance fund temporary employer-employee relief scheme to do so within 48 hours. He said, through its labour desk, the party will organise mass action against companies that fail to pay employees what is due to them. He encouraged workers who have not been paid their money to contact the EFF and the party would visit those companies.