File photo: GCIS.

PORT ELIZABETH - The ANC Veterans League on Friday said in a statement that the EFF members' behaviour during the budget presentation by minister Pravin Gordhan on Thursday in Parliament was a shocking "display of thuggery".

"While the country has become used to EFF rowdiness in the chambers of Parliament over the years, the crude attempt at intimidating a Cabinet minister in Parliament marks a step-change in the EFF’s long-standing war on constitutional democracy," the statement said. 

It said the EFF had adopted ultra right wing principles and methods "to attack the democratic doctrines that masses of our people fought and died for".

It likened the EFF to the far-right movements that have in recent years reared their ugly heads across the globe, "replete with phoney militarism and racial hate as its key organising principle", and said it was a reminder of the now defunct Afrikaaner Weerstand Beweging (AWB). 

"Any pretense at being an organised force of the left is now in tatters," the league said.

"The behaviour of the EFF is emblematic of the paucity of intellectual and political gravitas in the ranks of the EFF. 

"The gross narcissism and venality characteristic of its public ‘representatives’ is embodied in the self-regarding personality cult of its leaders, who clearly directed this cynical and contemptible assault in Parliament," the statement said.

"Left unchallenged, the Red Shirts may well turn into the Black Shirts (the paramilitary wing of Italian leader Benito Mussolini's National Fascist Party) who brought war and misery to Europe and much of the world. 

The league said the minister was among those who had exposed corruption and fraud, including allegations against EFF members of culpability in the looting of pensioners' money held by VBS Mutual Bank in the North West. 

"As veterans and stalwarts of the movement who stood up to the agents of state capture even within the ranks of the ANC, the EFF’s alleged corrupt leaders and fellow travellers are put on notice that comrade Pravin and other ANC leaders enjoy the full support and protection of the Veterans League as they pursue the criminals and political fraudsters.

The league also called on ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule to denounce the attack on Gordhan and to "assure him of the unqualified support of the movement".

The league called for sanctions against the EFF in Parliament in this matter. 

"The  EFF's disruptive and despicable behaviour should not be allowed to continue as it undermines our values  and is a threat to our hard-earned constitutional democracy," the statement said.

African News Agency (ANA)