Small turnout to ‘save the soul of the EFF’

2015-02-22 15:00

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It was billed to be a rally to “save the soul of the EFF”, but the fewer than 500 fighters who turned out for the event – which started more than three hours late – didn’t come close to filling the soccer field in Mangaung’s Rocklands area in Bloemfontein.

The rally was billed to start at 10am, but people only started trickling into the Mangaung Outdoor Sport Stadium around noon.

Party organisers cited problems with buses and told City Press the bus operators did not want to drive yesterday morning, before receiving payment deposits.

The original arrangement was that they would be paid after the work was done.

Organisers claimed buses came from all provinces, including KwaZulu-Natal, but most of the buses appeared to be from around Mangaung and the Free State, where a large faction of the EFF is unhappy with Malema’s leadership.

Three rebel MPs – Mpho Ramakatsa, Andile Mngxitama and Khanyisile Litchfield-Tshabalala – convened yesterday’s rally.

They said the gathering was “not about leadership change” or dividing the EFF but “correcting” its wrongs.

But Ramakatsa’s speech made it clear that his biggest grievance was about one man – Malema – and his circle of friends in the EFF’s leadership.

Ramakatsa said the friendship between Malema and his deputy and right-hand man Floyd Shivambu was at the heart of the problem. The friendship was a “danger” to the EFF, he said.

Ramakatsa, who used to be the EFF’s national coordinator, said the trouble started at an after-party in a Sandton bar following the EFF’s first birthday rally in Thokoza, Soweto, last year.

He claimed Malema said: “If you are not going to listen to me and Floyd, if you are not going to defend us, we are going to leave you with this thing [the EFF].”

Ramakatsa was not fazed by the small turnout.

“It is better to go to war with a few soldiers you can trust, that you can rely on, that are motivated to go tothe war. For us, it is not about filling the stadium, but about going to war to save the EFF,” he said.

Ramakatsa noted that some EFF members would also challenge the outcome of the party’s people’s assembly, where the current leadership was elected.

Meanwhile, some officials guarding the gate asked journalists to buy them food from a nearby spaza shop.

There was no obvious catering at the rally – even though there was evidently enough money to erect a decent stage, hire a good sound system and pay for the buses.

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