/ 13 June 2024

EFF to disband Limpopo structures after decline in election support

South Africa Election Results
EFF leader Julius Malema is expected to announce the disbandment of Limpop structures after the national coalition negotiations conclude later this month. (Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is expected to announce the disbandment of all its party structures in Limpopo in response to the drop in support in the national elections, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The decision was taken by the party’s national command council team (CCT) after a leadership plenary at which it analysed its election performance.

This is where the party decided to exclude the Limpopo provincial leadership from the members of legislature in its updated and final list presented to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), the sources said.

The EFF saw a decline in its national support from 10.8% in 2019 to 9.52% in 2024, meaning its MPs fell from 44 to 39.  

In Limpopo, the party saw a drop from 14.43% in 2019 to 14.12% in 2024, but their seats increased because of the IEC’s new seat determination for provincial legislature, which saw Limpopo increase its seats from 49 to 64 seats after the national census showed that its population had increased by 1.2 million since 2011.

As a result of the drop in the elections, the party had decided to disband the Limpopo command teams at branch, regional and provincial level and appointed a team of national leaders, led by MP Godrich Gardee, to oversee the process of rebuilding them.

This team would appoint acting regional and provincial leadership to work towards holding assemblies later this year at which new leaders would be elected to go to the party’s national elective conference expected in December, the sources said.

Party leader Julius Malema is expected to announce the disbandment after the national coalition negotiations conclude later this month.

Despite gaining two seats, going from seven to nine, the provincial leadership, closely allied with former provincial chairperson Jossey Buthane, who left the party to join the ANC last month, has lost favour with the national leadership. 

This fallout occurred after the leadership, led by Tshilidzi Maraga, the chairperson, defied the national leadership’s order not to contest the provincial elections against Malema’s ally Rendani Munyai.

“We told Tshilidzi to obey the orders not to contest the provincial elective conference because Rendani was the chosen one but instead she decided to listen to Jossey. We all knew that Jossey was no longer close to Julius, so why would Tshilidzi listen to him?” one CCT member said.

Julius Malema Cast Vote At Mponegele Lower Primary School In South Africa
Voters during the elections at Mponegele Lower Primary School In Seshego on 29 May in Polokwane. The EFF is expected to annouce the disbandment of all its party structures in Limpopo. (Photo by Philip Maeta/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

Another CCT member said Maraga’s defiance had forced her to work alone, without support of the national leadership.

“It’s very cold out there, if you lose the support of Julius, because it’s as if you are working alone. Look at this now, it’s embarrassing that none of the provincial leadership members were part of the legislature. Now they must start over, there is no honour in defiance in the EFF,” the other member said.

To make matters worse, on Tuesday, the ANC strengthened its lead over the EFF in the  Lepelle-Nkumpi municipality by-election, winning by a wider margin than in the 2021 local government election.

This is not the first time Malema has threatened to remove provincial leaders. Last year, the EFF dissolved all of its Limpopo provincial leadership structures because of the party’s poor performance during the previous local government elections.

At the time, Malema said that, although the party’s performance overall had been “formidable”, it “took exception” to the electoral slide in Limpopo, where it lost thousands of votes and 25 council seats.

The party — reeling from loss of electoral support — has been fighting for its place at the national negotiation table with the ANC, with the aim of taking key positions in the Gauteng and national leadership.

It has, however, publicly rejected the government of national unity which would mean working with the Democratic Alliance and Freedom Front Plus nationally and provincially.

“We told the ANC that the government of national unity does not make sense — to say that all political parties that contested must form a government together,” said party deputy leader Floyd Shivambu last week in a media briefing.

Shivambu said his party would field its own candidates to contest positions in parliament if coalition negotiations fail. “We do not want to form part of any government with 

representatives of the white colonial apartheid system,” Shivambu said.

Party spokesperson Sinawo Thambo had not responded to questions at the time of writing.