Economic Freedom Fighters commander-in-chief, Julius Malema. Photo: @EFFSouthAfrica
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema has denied claims that Ekurhuleni is in a state of financial disrepair — an allegation the party has suggested is being used against it in the run-up to the pivotal 2024 elections.
“Today they want to create an impression that Ekurhuleni has got financial problems. They even put a motion in the council that Ekurhuleni is about to be bankrupt. We went into the council, opened the books of the municipality. Ekurhuleni is in the positive. It is not negative” Malema said.
“The finances of Ekurhuleni were stabilised by the EFF.”
Malema was addressing more than 5 000 EFF members at the party’s Gauteng provincial ground forces forum on Sunday.
The province will be an important battleground for the party, where it currently co-governs two metros — Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg — alongside the ANC, under a deal in which they have agreed that smaller parties’ councillors ascend to the mayoral positions. But recent reports suggest that cracks are emerging in the EFF-ANC partnership.
Malema’s statement about Ekurhuleni’s financial position echo those of EFF Gauteng leader Nkululeko Dunga, who said the allegation that the party is misusing funds is politically motivated.
This after ANC Ekurhuleni chairperson Jongizizwe Dlabathi complained that the EFF’s leadership were using taxpayers’ money for their personal use.
“This is propaganda by the ANC in the metro, because despite the [allegations] from Jongizizwe, Ekurhuleni is more financially stable and in a better position than any other municipalities in the province,” Dunga told the Mail & Guardian.
He said unlike other metros, Ekurhuleni had demonstrated through its first quarter report that its financial position was better, saying: “We hit the 93% target on the collection rate meaning our budget is funded. We are only servicing the current debt [to] Eskom with no overdue amount.”
“The City of Tshwane’s finances are in shambles, the City of Johannesburg cannot collect revenue and they are struggling to pay workers, and the financial office there is run by an ANC cadre, Dada Morero.”
The face-off between the ANC and the EFF comes as the latter party appears to be gaining considerable ground ahead of the election.
As both parties prepare for the battle at the polls, the ANC’s highest decision body, the national executive committee (NEC), last month discussed re-evaluating the coalition with the EFF, citing fear of losing votes in 2024.
A presentation to the NEC by the ANC’s head of political education, David Makhura, accused the EFF of abusing its coalition partnerships with the ANC to undermine the governing party’s support. “The EFF uses coalitions to contest the ANC’s social base and further damage its brand,” the document read.
It said the party’s internal research showed that in by-elections, the EFF was still growing “mainly in the traditional base of the ANC; its growth is levelling up below 20%”.
On Monday, Mzwandile Masina, a former ANC Ekurhuleni chairperson, also said the party should not maintain the partnership, saying the relationship confused supporters and legitimised the EFF.
At the beginning of his address on Sunday, Malema suggested an ANC loss at the polls next year is a foregone conclusion. “Those who think and believe the ANC will survive the 2024 national and provincial elections need very close medical and psychiatric observation,” the EFF leader said.
“We are in no doubt that from 2024 onwards, the EFF will constitute the government of South Africa and will play a central role in the governance of the province of Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, North West, Mpumalanga and all over South Africa.”