EFF sets up early election machinery

2016-09-18 06:00
Godrich Gardee. Picture: Denzil Maregele

Godrich Gardee. Picture: Denzil Maregele

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Johannesburg - The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is setting up a permanent elections unit to maximise its chances of wresting control from the ANC in 2019.

The red berets also intend to train party agents two years in advance and contest all by-elections as part of this unit, which is scheduled to be launched next month.

“We have taken decisions to rebuild our structures,” said EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee.

“We will be setting up a permanent elections unit run by the commander in chief [Julius Malema], and an additional five or six people will be employed. We are going to contest all by-elections. We will be in perpetual election mode.

“We will start by training party agents. We will also be doing door-to-door visits. We will be primed so that, even if they call for elections, we are ready to go.”

The decision to establish the unit comes amid an internal revolt over the leadership’s surprise decision to disband some EFF structures.

The decision gave rise to increased accusations against Malema and his executives for being “dictators” – following criticism by EFF members against the leadership’s decision to deduct 50% of councillor salaries for the first three months to service costs incurred during the recent municipal polls.

Speaking to City Press this week, Gardee defended decisions taken by the party’s central command team early this month as it assessed its performance in the August local government elections.

Malema and his executive decided to disband provincial command teams in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

They also resolved that teams in the North West and Gauteng would hold early conferences.

Gardee said this did not mean the party was run dictatorially, as claimed by disgruntled members. He added that these claims were nothing new and the party was able to explain all decisions it had taken.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, some councillors told City Press they were unhappy with the 50% salary deduction as they had financial commitments and had left jobs to become councillors.

But Gardee was unmoved.

“People were told long time ago: ‘You will never have two jobs in the EFF.’ So, whether they were working or not is neither here nor there. The cost of elections must be settled. The revolution is self-funding, so they will pay the 50% [for three months]. Thereafter, they will pay 10%,” he said.

A provincial leader said the party had racked up at least R30 million in debt and confirmed Malema’s admission, made earlier this year, that homes and assets of the party’s officials had been used as collateral.

But Gardee would not make direct reference to this, only saying:

“The exact election debt of EFF will never be made public. So whoever is giving you figures is either overstating or understating them. We went to Standard Bank ... They did an affordability test based on the organisation’s cash flow.”

On the decision to disband the provincial command teams of two provinces, Gardee said this was because they had inflated figures pertaining to branches.

“The leadership was misled to believe there were 825 branches in KwaZulu-Natal. But the party’s post-election analysis showed there were only about 343 branches. And in the Eastern Cape, the EFF had only 316 branches, but its provincial leaders reported 614. Why should we keep such people?”

Gardee added that the decision to disband was not taken lightly and was only made in the “worst-case scenarios. At the 2014 polls, these two provinces were the weakest links for the EFF. This was again the case in 2016.”

Another bone of contention has been the EFF’s decision not to form coalitions with any party, but to vote with the DA in the three major metros which it now runs: Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay.

Concerns have been raised on how the EFF would carry out its policies, but Gardee said its programmes were in place and that voting with the DA would start to yield results in 2017.

“Municipal budgets are ANC budgets until July next year. We cannot expect much from those municipalities. However, the 2017/18 budget is the one we are going to influence."

Read more on:    eff  |  politics

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