/ 29 July 2023

Malema launches his election Manifesto with eyes on Gauteng

7881ea82 Dbee 4a72 9a43 33bb5e670fa7
File photo: EFF leaders during their 10th birthday celebration. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema officially launched his election campaign on Saturday during the party’s tenth birthday celebration at FNB Stadium in Soweto focusing his attention on  Gauteng.

Malema announced his party’s plans during his keynote address, targeting Gauteng as the province the party will work to claim in 2024. 

The EFF’s ambitions to lead in government were realised when a coalition with the ANC saw EFF members taking up leadership positions in mayoral executives across the Gauteng province.  

Its attempt to take over Ekurhuleni by way of a coalition in 2021 failed after talks with the ANC fell apart shortly after the elections. Negotiations were stymied by the EFF’s insistence on taking mayorship over the Ekurhuleni municipality. 

The back and forth between the ANC and the EFF over Ekurhuleni inadvertently resulted in the DA regaining another region in Tshwane. 

The red berets chose to abstain from voting with the ANC in Tshwane because of the Ekurhuleni squabble when the governing party did not support its candidate. This left Tshwane open for the DA.

With a renewed arrangement between the two parties in Gauteng, both organisations were instrumental in toppling the DA in Ekurhuleni in February, Mogale City, West Rand, Johannesburg and Tshwane with the help of smaller parties.

But the DA managed to regain Tshwane, electing Cilliers Brink as its mayor in February.

On Saturday, Malema said these results show that the EFF is here to stay, despite naysayers who had prophesied the EFF’s early doom. 

Malema said the party plans to take over Ekurhuleni and equip the informal settlements with resources that will help the people that live there.

“When we take over, informal settlements will be taken care of and given water. We will do the same thing for Hammanskraal, it will be given clean water,” he said.

During his speech, Malema took a swipe at Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi accusing him of using his position to gain votes. 

Lesufi recently launched his Nas’Ispani initiative to help the youth get employed, an act Malema criticised as a campaign tactic for next year’s elections.

“Panyaza is a small boy. On Thursday he filled Orlando Stadium here in Soweto to lie to our people about his job positions with a stipend, he is playing politics,” he said.

Malema added that the ANC’s corruption has resulted in the high unemployment resulting in youth fighting for scraps. 

Gauteng and KwaZulu–Natal where the ANC has struggled to regain ground is likely to be hotly contested in next year’s elections. 

The ANC fell from 53.59% in the 2014 elections to just over 50% in 2019. The EFF however shot up with 14.69% in 2019 from 10.30% in 2014. 

Local polling has suggested that the ANC may lose its slim majority in Gauteng. The ANC’s coalition arrangement with the EFF in the province has polarised ANC national executive committee members with some of the view that the DA is the better devil in coalitions. 

He said when the EFF took over, he was planning to rid the country of corruption placing blame for corruption at the feet of police minister Bheki Cele whom he said failed to arrest President Cyril Ramaphosa for “stealing dollars and hiding them inside his couch.”

“When we are in power, we will arrest Cyril Ramaphosa for stealing from us,” he said.

Speaking during his welcome address, EFF’s chairperson, Nkululeko Dunga said the rally was taking place in the province where the party stood the biggest chance of removing the ANC from office. 

“Welcome to Gauteng with a housing backlog of nearly two million, a province where sinkholes are a constant occurrence. The people of Diepsloot are riddled with crime and are tired of it. With all the challenges faced by the people, we have a government obsessed with itself and a province that we are fighting with every day,” Dunga said. 

African Transformation Movement leader Vuyo Zungula who also attended the EFF’s celebrations said that smaller parties should focus on working together before the 2024 elections.

“There is no future in this country if we do not work together… If we do not unite, we will not win as the opposition parties next year,” he said. 

Mandisa Nyathi is a climate reporting fellow, funded by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa