Julius Malema: Long live July 26 Movement! Long live EFF

2018-07-01 06:26
EFF leader Julius Malema has lashed out at the way Africans are perceived when talking about white or Indian racism. (Tebogo Letsie, Gallo Images, City Press, file)

EFF leader Julius Malema has lashed out at the way Africans are perceived when talking about white or Indian racism. (Tebogo Letsie, Gallo Images, City Press, file)

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In the winter of 2013, on June 11, almost 10 months after the Marikana massacre in which 34 mine workers were killed, we published a clarion call to our people to stand up and be counted.

The massacre was the final nail in the coffin of a governing party that was beyond repair. The call was the first conscious and public act in the birth of what is now the third-largest political party in South Africa – the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

We had three options to respond to the demise of the ANC. The first was to form a political party and contest state power. Second was to form an NGO with no direct political participation. The third option was to continue our pursuit to transform the ANC from within.

More than 1 200 delegates gathered at Uncle Tom’s Hall, 45 days after this call, and the collective concluded on July 26 2013 to form the Economic Freedom Fighters.

Public opinion and analysts immediately predicted that we would not survive beyond the 2014 general election. We weren’t up to the task of challenging the hegemony of the ANC, they said. We had no previous ministers or premiers, no millionaires or professors.

In fact, the majority of the collective rank and file, including the leadership, were ordinary South Africans for whom maintaining the status quo was not an option. Primarily these were petrol attendants, domestic workers, mine workers, security guards and the landless and unemployed who wanted change.

For the past five years the EFF has led groundbreaking political movements. We believe the major developments of 2018 are all due to the EFF – the removal of Jacob Zuma from office, as well as the parliamentary resolution to amend the Constitution and allow expropriation of land without compensation.

From its first appearance in Parliament, the EFF has led society to ask difficult questions about power and the future. Marikana remained a living topic in the political discourse because, each time the EFF presented its case in Parliament and at its rallies, it spoke about the massacred workers. In fact, the first time I, as the leader of the EFF, was kicked out of the National Assembly was due to a statement that the ANC government had killed workers in Marikana.

The EFF was also the first political party to raise the minimum wage in Parliament through its draft resolution motion. It was rejected by the ruling party, who later adopted it.

The EFF also raised the matter of tax avoidance, profit shifting and transfer pricing by multinational companies. Soon after, the African Union commissioned then president Thabo Mbeki to do a report on the subject. He would arrive at the same conclusion that through these practices the African continent was being drained of massive resources.

The EFF not only gives voice to the voiceless and holds the powerful accountable, it also believes in socialism, as well as in an economy in which production is about people and not profit. This is why we advocate a state bank, a state mining company and state ownership or custodianship of all our land.

To respond to poverty, unemployment and inequality, the state must lead industrial development through, among other things, protection of infant industries and state-owned companies.

Participating in general elections for the first time, the EFF moved from zero to 6%, barely eight months after formation. A mere two years later, we moved to 8% in local government elections.

The decision to contest political power has resulted in historic election results that saw metros and major municipalities across the country falling from the hands of the ANC.

This voter movement meant we were faced with a difficult choice between the ANC and opposition parties. But the truth is that the voters’ rejection of the ANC already removed any possibility of working with it. The true choice therefore was to form a coalition government or remain outside power. We chose to vote and not participate in any coalition government.

This decision received wide condemnation. However, people appreciated that we came so close to power, to becoming mayors and ministers, and yet we chose principle over positions. We demonstrated unequivocally that we shall not be in government when there is no agreement about policies which are grounded in our mission and seven cardinal pillars.

As we celebrate our fifth anniversary, we have much to be proud of in our unbroken commitment to the struggle for economic freedom. Long Live the July 26 Movement! Long live the EFF.

Malema is president and commander in chief of the Economic Freedom Fighters

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Read more on:    eff  |  julius malema
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