Former South African Minister of Inteligence Ronnie Kasrils who is one of the interim leaders, during Preparatory Assembly of the United Front held at O.R. Tambo Southern Sun Hotel near Kempton Park in Ekurhuleni. 141214 Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Johannesburg - The Economic Freedom Fighters have a future in the country and will grow, former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils said on Monday.

“They have earned their spurs by forthrightly challenging the ANC and status quo; (and) resurrected interest in clauses of the Freedom Charter pertaining to the land question and nationalisation when the ANC and SACP had forgotten such key questions relating to the economy,” he told Sapa.

“They are young and will learn from experience and mature.”

He said the EFF, led by former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, had inspired a large sector of the youth becoming disillusioned with politics.

Kasrils was this weekend elected to the national working committee of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA's (Numsa) United Front.

Earlier this year, the former Cabinet minister was part of the “Sidikiwe! Vukani! Vote No!” campaign calling on South Africans to either vote for a minority party, or spoil their ballots in the May general elections.

Kasrils said the EFF would gain from close association with trade unions such as Numsa and was bound to link in some way to an emerging workers' party, as with the United Front.

The EFF has been responsible for livening up debate in Parliament since it joined the National Assembly as the second biggest opposition party this year.

Kasrils said it was not the antics in the House that kept people interested.

“(Citizens) are coming to see how anti-democratic and arrogant the ANC is with the closing down of the right of freedom of expression, with the president and ministers more often than not evading awkward questions and shirking open debate,” he said.

“It is appalling that the very place where freedom to express oneself, and the right to information should be sacrosanct, is being shut down.”

If this was the case for Parliament it did not bode well for an open, democratic society.

Kasrils said the current political landscape was changing with the ANC “battening down the hatches”, the rise in secrecy, and the demise of accountability.

“I fear a descent into police state secrecy and promotion of fear, distrust and paranoia, rather than the healthy accountable and transparent democracy we fought and sacrificed for,” he said. - Sapa