Red berets march aggressively on the road to 2016

2014-12-21 15:00

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The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) will focus on organised mass action with a purpose instead of randomly hijacking protests in the run-up to the 2016 local government elections.

EFF leader Julius Malema has admitted the party’s protest strategy failed to pull votes in the May elections.

Some EFF members who facilitated community protests about service delivery were sidelined at the party’s congress, which ended in Mangaung on Tuesday.

These members, led by Lufuno Gogoro in Gauteng, failed to stop the conference, but on Friday they were still threatening to go to court in a bid to have the conference outcomes nullified.

In his closing speech to members, Malema told the fighters they were embarking “on a new journey” as a young party.

Here are some elements of that new journey:

»?“We are going to occupy the unoccupied land, because we need the land [to eat and work]”. Members shouldn’t write to EFF leaders asking to occupy land – they should do it in their branches.

»?“We are going to establish a solidarity fund where we are going to raise money to bail out those who get arrested from occupying the land in South Africa.”

»?“Every time you are marching to the municipalities, you are blocking roads, you are burning tyres, but you have never blocked a mine. Why are you not blocking a mine? Communities must benefit from those mines.” Priorities include mines belonging to Patrice Motsepe, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete.

»?Members should read Marxist, Leninist and Fanonist theory and know the EFF’s resolutions, constitution and code of conduct in the same way they “know their ID numbers”.

»?EFF members must start behaving like they’re already councillors and mayors. This, Malema said, was to prepare for the party taking power in Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Nelson Mandela Bay in 2016.

“We must show people in municipalities that we are ready to govern South Africa.”

Malema’s speech came at the end of an overall successful conference – but one at which the cracks in the party were for the first time displayed openly. It’s unclear whether those who lost out on leadership positions will be retained by the party.

The division is between the youth league group, the dominant camp in the EFF comprising former ANC Youth League leaders, and the so-called black consciousness group – some of whom crossed to the EFF from Andile Mngxitama’s September National Imbizo grouping.

The party’s former national coordinator, Mpho Ramakatsa, lost his bid for the secretary-general position because he didn’t receive a large enough show of hands during the open nominations process on Sunday night, despite making himself available to stand.

Ramakatsa, also an MP, told City Press on Friday he didn’t know if he would be kicked out of the party.

He said members would have to rally behind the decisions made at the assembly, but complained that delegates were forced to vote according to a slate of names predetermined by the party’s leadership.

He said those who dared to vote otherwise in the open process would be “dealt with”.

Malema has defended the use of lists, which he said made it easier for people to remember who to vote for, but denied there was intimidation.

Mngxitama, who declined nomination as one of the 35 additional members because his “revolutionary conscience” would not allow him to stand, said the problems in the organisation were not insurmountable.

“The problems can be resolved. I just thought at that moment we are not doing very well handling those issues,” he said.

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