Quieter campaign as Julius Malema visits a few homes in Umlazi

2014-01-13 00:00

AFTER the chaos and political clashes at Nkandla on Saturday, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema made an equally disorganised but quiet campaign effort north of Durban yesterday — amid a strong police presence.

Malema was scheduled to conduct a “door-to-door campaign” in Umlazi, but visited only a couple of families.

The former ANC Youth League leader arrived at Menzi High School sports grounds almost two hours after his expected arrival — and EFF organisers were heard to lament that they had failed to “mobilise” large number of supporters to greet him.

However, the late arrival did not dampen the spirits of the fewer than 50 “fighters” gathered in their trademark red berets — who waited in the scorching heat while the party’s “10 commandments” blared from one of their luxury vehicles. In a dig at President Jacob Zuma, one of the commandments encouraged people to “think like Africans!”

One police van was stationed at the sports grounds, while others patrolled the area or followed Malema’s convoy.

On Saturday, police fired rubber bullets and used a water cannon and tear gas when ANC members threw stones at EFF supporters near Zuma’s Nkandla homestead.

Malema was in the village to hand over a house EFF had built to a woman and her grandchildren.

Police had kept the two groups separate after ANC members blocked the road leading to the house, preventing Malema’s car from driving past.

Yesterday, Malema waited inside his Mercedes-Benz after his arrival at Umlazi, while EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlonzi and local leaders discussed the programme and appeared unsure how to proceed with the campaign stop.

Ndlozi said, “We are doing a door-to-door. He [Malema] wants to see people in their homes.”

However, a local leader was overheard pleading with Ndlozi that “It is better that he at least greets” the fighters with a short speech.

Eventually, Malema — wearing sunglasses, red beret, jeans and a white shirt — emerged from the vehicle and greeted the small band of supporters.

Residents watched with interest as Malema’s motorcade moved slowly through Umlazi — with some lifting their fists and cheering, while others jeered.

When the motorcade stopped, Malema visited the home of Robert Mgaga and his family.

Mgaga complained to Malema about youth unemployment, housing development, crime and drugs.

“If there were jobs I would be okay,” said Mgaga (65), whose son is also unemployed.

“Housing development is also an issue. I built this one myself. There have always been promises for low-cost houses.”

Malema said they would consider incorporating his concerns in their manifesto.

“We have heard you, father,” he said.

Mgaga could not hide his excitement over meeting Malema in person, but the former ANC Youth League leader simply laughed and invited him to join his party.

Meanwhile, IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi also campaigned in Umlazi and he too was accompanied by police and traffic officers.

Alco Ngobese, IFP national organsier, said his party was happy with the response they received there.

Party leaders initially gathered at Coastal College and were then deployed in 10 teams to visit homes in the area.

“People were excited to see the president of IFP. People are hungry for the IFP,” Ngobese said.

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