No red berets please, we’re businesspeople

2013-11-17 06:01

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have proven to be something of a hit with black professionals.

There was no space to sit for those who arrived late at the Midrand Protea Hotel hall where the party’s professionals network seminar was held on Friday.

Very few of the people who came from across Gauteng to attend the seminar donned red berets – the organisers tried to discourage supporters from wearing their trademark hats in keeping with the mood of the occasion.

It was as though the organisers wanted to show that there was more to the party’s supporters than disgruntled and unemployed township youngsters.

The event, which was addressed by EFF “commissar” Dali Mpofu, was billed as a campaign to solicit the views of professionals before the start-up party crafts its elections manifesto.

An accountant who said she formerly worked for the Auditor-General complained about the lack of accountability, and wanted to know if the EFF has any plans to ensure accountability.

An attorney asked if there was anything the EFF thinks the ANC could still do about land reform given that its hands are tied by the compromises it made at the negotiation table during the transition to democracy in the 1990s.

A mechanical engineer who introduced himself as Matome expressed concern that South Africa was using its skills to help Nigeria produce a car, and asked how South Africa could build its own engineering skills “if such skills are transferred”.

Another engineer stood up to praise Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe for “restoring the dignity of his people”, and said his travels throughout the continent had convinced him of the need for economic freedom back home.

Others complained about the lack of transformation in the sectors of the economy where they operate, and how black professionals remain marginalised.

Mpofu used the bulk of his speech to explain why South Africa would not progress under President Jacob Zuma’s National Development Plan, which he said was “a sellout document”.

He said in 2030, when the most of the promises of the plan to develop the country should bear fruit, its architects would no longer be around to see their mess.

“They will say ‘sorry’ from their bunkers,” he said.

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