Durban — The EFF on Saturday proved their strength in KwaZulu-Natal by filling up Moses Mabhida Stadium where the party launched its manifesto ahead of the general elections.
And its commander-in-chief Julius Malema and party leaders said all the right things to pull at the heartstrings of those who showed up to support the political party.
The EFF planned to use their gains at tertiary institutions across the country as a launching pad for what they hope will be a victorious campaign.
EFF Student Command president Sihle Lonzi said they would embark on a massive voter registration campaign across campuses this week as they desired victory at the polls.
He told the audience that was made up of young people that they should vote to be liberated.
“Political freedom without economic freedom is useless, that is why we are urging every young person to register to vote,” he said.
Malema in his address promised to ensure the delivery of improved services such as water and electricity and ensure efficient infrastructure.
His other aim was to move Parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria as a cost-saving exercise. He rebuked the Cyril Ramaphosa administration, insisting that the level of government services had dropped drastically since Ramaphosa became president.
In addition, Malema promised to bring freedom in the form of better education that will be fully funded by the state.
He labelled 1994 as a missed opportunity, noting how many black people remained condemned to living in shacks as they did not have access to land. He said the EFF’s commitments were possible as they would increase wealth tax and guard against any illicit outflows of money from the country.
Malema said the EFF’s manifesto launch in KZN was an illustration of the party's heavy presence in the province.
“Whether they like it or not, we are here and there is nothing they can do to stop us,” he said.
ATM leader Andile Zungula, who pledged to support the EFF, expressed concern about divisions among black people and parties, noting how they were also victims of violence.
Zungula committed his party to working relations with black parties and cautioned against the possible theft of votes by the ANC. He vowed to protect EFF votes with his party agents at voting stations.
“There is something that has been ingrained among black people – that they should attack each other if they disagree and that is why they are the ones that get killed. You never hear of other races that get killed,” said Zungula.
Responding to Zungula, Malema said while they were against clashes among black people, they would not hesitate to crush any black person that stood between them and the realisation of freedom. Such people were sell-outs, referring to Ramaphosa as one.
Malema endorsed Zulu King Misuzulu and his decision to appoint Zululand Mayor Thulasizwe Buthelezi as the nation’s traditional prime minister.
“I salute the king as a sign of affirmation that there is only one king of the Zulu nation and that king is Misuzulu kaZwelithini [and] for him to be a king he must be born a king and he was born a king and he shall lead us.
“To undunankulu (prime minister) kaZulu Thulasizwe Buthelezi, we are saying to you as a prime minister of e Zulu nation, we are not foreign to your political affiliation (the IFP) but we respect the king’s decision and we shall always uphold it,” said Malema.
EFF KZN chairperson Mongezi Thwala said the turnout at the manifesto launch was the end product of nearly six months of consultation with communities across provinces.
Thwala took aim at the KZN government's Sithesha Waya Waya programme, labelling it a scam in which people were given part-time opportunities. He said they were ready to ensure the ANC’s removal.
Meanwhile, Carl Niehaus, of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans' Association and former ANC activist who has since joined the EFF, said he tried unsuccessfully to convince former president Jacob Zuma to join the Red Berets instead of the Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party.
Speaking to the Sunday Tribune, Niehaus said Zuma had approached him to abandon the idea of joining the EFF and instead participate in the formation of the MK, which Niehaus declined.
Malema previously said he would have preferred Zuma joining the EFF to strengthen his already existing progressive left party.
Niehaus said: “I think he (Zuma) would have done better had he joined the EFF before he decided to launch the MK Party. He in fact invited me (to join MK) and I said to him I don’t believe we must create more progressive parties.
“I said to baba (Zuma) it would be better if you joined the EFF so that we can move forward as a united left wing progressive force.”
Niehaus wouldn’t reveal the reasons why Zuma chose to not join the EFF.
Niehaus said he believed that the EFF and MK parties could still work together.
“I am always for unity. Let us wait and see what the election brings for us. If it is a case that we should form a coalition, we will cross that bridge,” he said.
Niehaus was fired from the ANC for bringing the party into disrepute and formed the African Radical Economic Transformation Alliance, which he later folded to move to the EFF.
Zungula and a PAC representative also pledged their support for the EFF.
Attempts by former Ukhozi FM DJ Ngizwe Mchunu to disrupt the EFF’s rally in Durban by holding a gathering at the Gugu Dlamini Memorial Park turned out to be a failure. Only a few people turned up. Mchunu had said he and his followers would be ready to prevent Malema from entering Durban for the rally