Julius Malema addresses miners at Wonderkop outside Rustenburg, telling them that 36 people were killed to protect the mining interest of ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa at Lonmin Mine last year. Malema has returned to Marikana to campaign this weekend. Photo: Motshwari Mofokeng

The EFF launches in the area where the government of the ANC crushed economic freedom fighters demanding a living wage, writes Julius Malema.

Rustenburg - Our journey began on June 11, when we asked the question, what is to be done? We subjected ourselves and our time to a radical critique, painfully dissecting its nuances and arrived at the conclusion that there exists no political home of all the current formations for the radical programme of the African revolution. Thus, we asked, what is to be done?

To this question, as many of you are now aware, lay three paths: one, we were to become an NGO; two, a social movement; and/or three, a political party that contests power.

Many of our people wrote to us, called us into community meetings and gatherings of all sorts, and we discussed the definitive question of our generation: what is to be done?

The South Africa revolution, which is essentially an African revolution, has indeed come a long way: from the days of the European invasion in the mid-1600s when the Khoi and San people resisted bastardisation and kaffirdom, to the democratisations of the late 20th century, which it now appears have only suffocated the dream of a world free of racial oppression.

Therefore, there was an urgent need to pose the question, as painful as it is to most, and at times scary: what is to be done?

This reflection was indeed hard because of the golden and fearless way in which those belonging to the era of anti-apartheid Struggle fought and won political power.

We, however, are not nostalgic for our past and are never going to wallow in the pain of what could have been in the former liberation movement.

We surely are walking in the steps of giants such as Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe, Winnie Mandela, Robert Resha, Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara and many others who chose to define their revolutionary and political paths for the generations they led amid resistance from political elites and reactionary forces.

The post-1994 social pact failed to deliver our people from economic bondage. In the past 20 years we have seen endless policies of neo-liberalism that have worsened inequality, poverty and unemployment.

Our people have had no decent services in water, housing, health and education; above all, they remain without land in their own country.

The reflections our generation had to make, therefore, were not about establishing an alternative for the sake of it, but out of a conscious critique of the liberation movement many of us belonged to.

Like many in the continent who had delivered African people to political self-determination, liberation movements normally do not know how to deal with the economic question.

Quoting Frantz Fanon, most of the time it is due to the fact that they do not know their economies in the first place, thus they depend on the very West they seek to be independent from to provide direction for economic planning.

No wonder we are not free. The Western advice does not lead to decolonisation of property relations, but instead it has left the African child in an even worse economic state of affairs.

Thus, our journey and difficult self-criticism culminated in the Soweto National Assembly on July 27, in which a decision was taken to form a political party that would contest the elections, particularly next year.

The Economic Freedom Fighters party was born, a movement that takes upon itself the radical decolonisation of the African economy in the interests of the black working class, Africans in particular.

We therefore head to Marikana, the valley of the shadow of death, where the government of the ANC crushed the economic freedom fighters who were demanding a living wage.

We head there because we identify with the struggle mineworkers are engaged in and our programme also aims to transform property relations in the very sector in which they were slaughtered.

Marikana represents a powerful testimony that the government of the day no longer hears the will of the people; it no longer serves in the interest of the African revolution. Marikana epitomises the total collapse of the 1994 social pact, together with its sunset clauses.

Central to this pact is the Labour Relations Act, whose chief task is to manage the unresolvable contradiction of capitalists and workers that we witnessed in Marikana.

We saw the 1994 democratic state used to protect capital, to deliver workers to the valley of death; perhaps in order to instil a fear never to revolt again.

The very lifeblood of colonial subjugation in South Africa’s capitalist development was always to ensure the availability of cheap and easily disposable black labour.

In the mines, workers still toil in the most appalling and dangerous conditions with almost no pay.

When they took to the streets they demanded a living wage of R12 500, which would substantially transform their lives so that they could have access to better health care, education and housing.

The 1994 project did not change this condition in the mines; instead workers were crushed when they took to the picket lines demanding a transformation of how capital has historically always treated black workers; as cheap and easily disposable labour.

Therefore, like Sharpeville, Marikana calls for a change of gear in the tools of the struggle.

It calls for a radical transformative agenda that targets economic emancipation through direct state involvement in the capture and distribution of resources – land expropriation, nationalisation of mines, banks and strategic industries, to name a few.

Noteworthy, though, is that since the decision to form the Economic Freedom Fighters was taken, those who participated in its ranks have been subjected to forms of harassment and intimidation similar to apartheid.

People get fired for wearing red berets; they get insulted and beaten up for associating with the EFF, and our meetings have been targets of ANC hooligans who dedicate themselves to disrupting us.

Yet, many express shock when we compare the government of the ANC to that of apartheid and arrive at a conclusion that the ANC is worse.

We say this because, unlike apartheid, they are not expected to be undemocratic. Knowing how it feels to be denied the basic rights in society, and being black themselves, they should know better.

Therefore, they are worse, self-hating and most destructive to the liberation of the African child

But these people who face so much strife and harassment from the ANC government work tirelessly to build the movement.

They reach into their limited pockets to contribute to the progress of the EFF; ordinary people from all walks of life have made contributions from as little as R5, R10, R30, R100, and some R10 000 into the small coffers of EFF to make sure that the official public launch happens.

We dare not betray the will and courage of those who are willing to be associated with the cause of economic freedom in our lifetime.

They travel for long hours, willing to sleep on buses in order to come to the gatherings of the EFF.

If you fight such a people you should be worried, because these are people who have decided that no one is willing to look out for their interests and thus they take it upon themselves to wake up and ensure the completion of the revolution; they are defined by fearlessness.

The Economic Freedom Fighters therefore set out to raise the sun that set in 1994, to truly allow dawn to break on a day of genuine economic emancipation.

We set out to Marikana to pick up the spears of the workers. We go to “let speak” the silenced voices, to say we have heard their cry and seen their tears; that we, as a generation, shall not close our eyes and ears to the peril that shot them to the ground.

October 13, 2013, will be known as the day Economic Freedom Fighters took the spear and forced it back to the battlefield.

It is the day when a giant movement fearlessly declared war against black and white slave masters who continue to hold the absolute majority of our people in indignity and chains of mediocrity.

We will publicly avow that our struggle is tied to the struggle for the emancipation of the people of Western Sahara and the sustenance of real economic transfer in Zimbabwe.

We are inspired by and look up to the fighters in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, whose environment and resources are being looted by oil corporations and who are benefiting in no way from their oil wealth.

We are inspired by many in the Democratic Republic of Congo who have many natural resources and wealth but cannot enjoy them because of a string of kleptocratic governments which have been imposed since the assassination of Lumumba.

All people from all walks of life must flock to Marikana today, eight weeks after the first anniversary of the Marikana massacre, which the ANC government committed. This is why holding on to labels and names of former glory will not assist, justice must trump loyalty. It will be a sad day, but also a day of hope; hope for total victory of the African revolution, for a giant is born, born never to be silenced again.

In the same spirit, we launch EFF. Salute!

* Julius Malema is president and commander-in-chief of the EFF.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Sunday Independent