Pretoria - Julius Malema may have to turn to Fikile Mbalula, the man he replaced as ANC Youth League president in 2008, to seek permission for his Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to host a rally at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday.
The EFF has been locked in a dispute with the City of Tshwane over the use of the 28 900-seater stadium in Atteridgeville after the municipality reneged on its earlier approval.
The party took the matter to the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday asking it to force the city to comply with the agreement it had signed last week for use of the stadium.
However, the court has referred the dispute to internal structures within the City of Tshwane.
These avenues had not been fully exhausted before the matter was taken to court, the court ruled.
Municipal spokesman Blessing Manale said the city’s Joint Operations Centre was meeting to debate the issue with the EFF on Wednesday.
“Relevant structures in the city will submit that the stadium is not available on Sunday.
“If the EFF is still unhappy with the outcome of our deliberations, it will have to appeal to the national Sports Ministry, in line with the regulations,” Manale said.
But the EFF is having none of it.
EFF national spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said: “We have been given permission to use the stadium and the rally will go ahead on Sunday as planned at the Lucas Moripe Stadium”.
Meanwhile, the City of Tshwane is adamant that the stadium was not available for the booked date.
In terms of the agreement between the two parties signed last Wednesday, the city granted the EFF permission to host its rally at the stadium. Tshwane’s regional office wrote to the party indicating the stadium was vacant and had been provisionally reserved for the requested date – May 4.
However, on Friday the city’s Sports and Recreation Services Department sent another letter to the EFF indicating that the stadium was no longer available.
The department stated: “It has come to our attention that our regional office accepted a booking… The department had already made plans to conduct major maintenance work of reseeding the turf. This information was not communicated in time to the regional office for it not to accept bookings.
“Based on the above, we therefore regret to inform you that we were left with no option but to set aside the booking as this maintenance work could last for anything between eight to 10 weeks and will not be ready by the date of your event.”
The EFF leadership refused to accept this and said the reversal of the decision had nothing to do with maintenance, but was a political instruction to deny the party the right to gather.
The Tshwane municipality is controlled by the ANC, Ndlozi said. The decision to withdraw approval was unfair and illegal.
“The city first argued there was a Premier Soccer League (PSL) match on the day. But the PSL had agreed to move the match at our request.”
Posters advertising and mobilising support for the rally have already been printed and buses for supporters paid for, the EFF said.
The party has already extensively advertised the event, dubbed the Tshela Thupa Rally.
Accreditation for the media and other delegates has been under way since last week and was scheduled to close on Tuesday.
Malema, whose party is making its debut in the election, will be the key speaker at the rally.