/ 1 June 2024

Malema: MK party, not open border policy, is behind EFF’s 2024 electoral decline

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EFF leader Julius Malema gives a news conference following the South African national, provincial and regional elections results from the Results Operation Centre in Midrand, Gauteng on 1 June 2024. Photo by Delwyn Verasamy/M&G

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema dismissed suggestions that the decline in support for his party in the 29 May general election was caused by its open border policy, arguing that the rise of Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party was the main  reason.

The MK party’s strong performance in KwaZulu-Natal illustrated to the EFF that the votes  it had previously received in the province were not a true reflection of the support it enjoys there, Malema told a media briefing at the national results centre on Saturday.

Instead, those previous votes had come from staunch supporters of the former president who were disgruntled with the ANC, the EFF leader said.

“In any election, there are always dynamics. The emergence of this party is a new dynamic we now understand. What president Zuma did to us is similar to what [ActionSA leader Herman] Mashaba did to us in Johannesburg in 2021. Once we identified the problem, we addressed it,” he said, noting that ActionSA had not performed as well in these general elections as it did in the local government ones three years ago.

With 99.61% of results in from the Electoral Commission of South Africa on Saturday evening, the EFF’s national tally stood at 9.49%, down from the 10.8% support the party received in 2019.

It slipped to fourth place from third position five years ago, surrendering the spot to the six-month-old MK party which was sitting at 14.67% of the vote.

Malema said the EFF’s open border policy position had no bearing on its performance, arguing that those parties pushing for tighter immigration controls had not performed any better.

“Which party has benefited from these xenophobic attacks in these elections? No one. Operation Dudula was contesting elections, they are not going to get anything. They are back to the village they come from,” he said.

He said the party would continue to defend its cardinal pillar on a united Africa.

“We are refusing to switch off oxygen machines and if you comrades are saying that is the thing costing us votes, let it continue to cost us votes. We are refusing to deny children to study in our schools because we are told they are from a certain [African] country,” he said.

“If this issue is going to make us remain the six of us, so be it. We are not going to retreat on a scam of fear mongering.If you don’t believe me, ask Mashaba. This thing of being xenophobic and thinking you are going to win is a lie.”

Malema said the key takeaway for this election was that the MK party had helped achieve the EFF’s goal of depriving the ANC of its outright majority in Parliament.

“Now that the parliamentary majority of the ANC has been broken and there is no single political party that can constitute government on its own, we as the EFF will be engaging with different political parties on how we elect leadership for Parliament and constitute a government that will lead South Africa for the next five years,” he said.

Malema vowed to punish EFF members who had not pulled their weight during campaigning.