EFF: Will Juju get magic 10%?

2013-10-13 14:00

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Julius Malema might get a seat in Parliament, but he’s after nothing less than the presidency

Julius Malema says he will not be satisfied with a seat in Parliament. He wants to be president.

In an interview ahead of today’s launch of his Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, Malema said his electioneering tactics were learnt at his former political home – the ANC Youth League (ANCYL).

“When we were campaigning for Zuma, as the ANCYL which I led, we made South African politics fashionable.

“We are going to use the same strategy to garner support for the EFF,” he said. Malema’s message to voters is as populist as ever.

He says the first thing he will do “when” his party wins next year’s general election will be to hold a referendum on the death penalty.

But the presidency may be just a far-off dream for now, and Malema says he will go to Parliament “begrudgingly if party members insist I go”.

All the same, political analysts say he stands a good chance of capturing a small but significant percentage of the vote, which will allow him and a handful of his team to go to Parliament.

They agree that the party’s biggest constituency will be young people angry with the ruling party.

But just who from the EFF will make it to Parliament remains unclear, as the party is yet to determine who will be on its parliamentary and provincial legislature lists.

Malema was in a bullish mood in Marikana yesterday.

“When we win the elections next year, we will hold a referendum on the death penalty and, if the people want it back, so be it.

“And we will not be apologetic about hanging or castrating men who rape the elderlies and children (sic).

“Though crime is largely caused by unemployment, poverty and inequality, rape is caused by uncontrollable libido,” he said.

“This is about preserving the image of our country. When we go abroad, people should be asking us about developments in our country, not always about rape. We are seen as rapists.

“This is the only way we can deal with this matter, to restore the image of our black brothers who are often seen as rapists when they travel abroad.”

Malema is adamant that his party will win it all at next year’s polls – even if “there is no money”.

“EFF is a penniless organisation. This event (the party launch) was funded by comrades who dug deep into their pockets.”

Despite this, he says: “We are not worried about (the ANC’s) election campaign. It is going to be a walk in the park, because of the person they put as (the) head of their election campaign, (Public Enterprises Minister) Malusi Gigaba. Who knows him?” Malema joked.

“He was a leader of an unknown ANCYL. It would be a challenge for us if they had brought (Sports Minister) Fikile Mbalula.

“Malusi can’t even express himself properly.”

Malema and other EFF leaders slaughtered cattle on the infamous Marikana koppie near Rustenburg, North West.

This was a cleansing ritual, they said, intended to “remove evil” from the place.

But yesterday wasn’t all celebratory. EFF members caught a man taking pictures of their cars’ licence plates and chaos resulted.

Pule Phogojane (53) was caught secretly taking pictures of the registration numbers and writing some of them down on his hands.

Angry EFF members manhandled Phogojane, and a man wearing a T-shirt belonging to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) pulled a gun on him.

They interrogated Phogojane, who explained that he’d been paid R2 000 by a man he claimed worked for a state intelligence agency, and that he’d been promised R10 000 for yesterday’s assignment. Police detained Phogojane.

Political analyst Adam Habib, the vice-chancellor of Wits University, said the EFF would “probably bag under five seats”.

“If they capture 1% or 2% of the vote they would have done well,” Habib said.

Independent analyst Ralph Mathekga agreed.

“They will get seats, but the question is if they will be able to break the 10% threshold. They will do well, but I doubt if they will get more than 10%.”

Mathekga said the ground was more fertile for parties like the EFF and new player Agang SA, led by Mamphela Ramphele.

They had a better chance of doing well than when the Congress of the People (Cope) was formed in 2008, he said. Cope captured 7.4% of the national vote in the 2009 general election.

“When Cope was formed, the disgruntlement was not as high as it is now.

“Then, the disgruntlement was about certain leaders in the ANC. Now many people are angry with the party at large,” said Mathekga.

But Steven Friedman, political analyst and director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, said he couldn’t predict how many votes the EFF would get. But he said “they will not make a significant impact”.

All three analysts agreed that young people would form most of the EFF’s core constituency.

“They have been able to captivate young people,” said Mathekga.

“They are also launching when the ANC Youth League has collapsed.

“They can prey on that weakness. Clearly their support base is among the youth.”

Habib cautioned that while many young people would be inclined to vote for the EFF, Malema would first have to convince them to register to vote.

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