ANC tries to ‘pull rug from under EFF’ as newbie guns for 20% of the vote

2014-02-23 10:00

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50 000 people cram the Mehlareng Stadium to hear Juju kick off his campaign

It was undoubtedly the biggest manifesto launch of a new party South Africa has seen.

Despite attempts by the ANC to lure supporters away from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) event with a music concert 6km away, 50 000 people crammed the Mehlareng Stadium in Tembisa, Ehurhuleni, to hear Julius Malema kick off his election campaign.

As more than 10 000 people attended the ANC event at which popular party leaders Fikile Mbalulu and Malusi Gigaba spoke, those who couldn’t get into the EFF event sat and listened from outside.

City Press has learnt that there are serious concerns from within the ANC about how the EFF will fare in the May 7 election.

A strategist close to the ANC said the party’s own polls showed that its support could drop to below 60%.

“We are doing everything we can to pull the rug from under the EFF,” said an ANC NEC member who was deployed to Limpopo, where the party’s top six campaigned this weekend.

“A party needs 50 000 votes for one seat in Parliament. We want to ensure that the EFF doesn’t even get one.”

The ANC’s efforts come as its own polls show the party is hovering just below 60% of the vote. This is similar to the DA’s polls for the ANC, which DA insiders say show the ANC will get between 59% and 61% of the vote.

An EFF national leader, who declined to be named, said the party projected to get around 20% of the national vote, even though an Ipsos poll put its support at around 7% in January.

EFF leader Advocate Dali Mpofu said the party had conducted no polls yet, but was expecting to receive enough support in some provinces to force coalition governments.

“We can only talk about polls at the end of March ... We want to capture as much of the national vote as possible,” he said.

On Friday night, Malema suggested that he wanted coalition governments in North West, Gauteng and Limpopo after the elections.

The EFF is also banking on the support of the small leftist organisations and parties, such as Azapo and South Africa First, which gave messages of support to the party yesterday.

Malema invoked the memories of the victims of Marikana, Andries Tatane, Peter Mokaba, Chris Hani and Sabelo Phama in his plea for votes. The widows of Marikana miners killed by police in August 2012 also attended the event.

“I am appealing to you to honour their loved ones. They are saying they can’t continue to kill us and you continue to vote for them,” he said.

“Let us hear the battle cry of those widows. As they sing, they are asking you to rescue them from pain.”

Yesterday’s performance showed a more mature Malema who has moved away from the theatrics he was famous for as ANC Youth League leader.

His presentation was sombre and ­appealed to the emotions of voters who had become disgruntled with the ANC.

Although his manifesto was clearly populist, it sought to appeal to a wider spectrum of voters than the youths who had filled Mehlareng Stadium.

It also showed a leader who knew the odds were stacked against him and that his party’s survival hinged on it having more than one leader.

He spoke highly of his “central committee” which includes party spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, actor and EFF arts head Fana Mokoena, justice commissar Mpofu, land reform head Andile Mngxitama, economic development head and activist Sipho Mbatha, and ­education commissar and long-time ally Floyd Shivambu.

The EFF manifesto contains populist appeals, including a promise to ensure that 60% of mines are owned by the state to fund the doubling of social grants. The manifesto promises miners R12?500 a month plus 10% of their mines.

Other proposals include moving ­Parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria to reduce accommodation and transport costs and a ban on state-bought cars and houses for ministers and MECs.

Malema said the EFF would force all public servants to send their children to state schools and use state hospitals, and implement a minimum wage of R4?500 a month.

To fight corruption, the tender system would be abolished, as well as the use of consultants and project managers.

To fund this, the EFF will nationalise 60% of privately owned mines, banks and other strategic sectors of the economy. All land will belong to government and farmers will lease it from the state.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said the manifesto was based on “raw economics that don’t work” and was calculated to make things difficult for the ANC.

On Friday night, Malema said his party would take the Independent Electoral Commission to court for prescribing a R200?000 fee for contesting national elections and R45?000 per province for provincial elections.

He told guests at a Boksburg gala dinner, where tables were sold for R20?000 and seats for R2?000, that it was unfair for new entrants to fork out huge sums.

The dinner raised only R2?million, Malema said, which would go towards the party’s election coffers.

No high-profile guests attended, suggesting perhaps that EFF funders were not yet prepared to show their faces.

Malema will not name the businessman who donated the Mercedes-Benz campaign truck the party is using.

» Get City Press newspaper to read more on the EFF, ANC and DA campaigns.

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