Fierce contestation in EFF Gauteng as assemblies season firmly kicks in

2018-05-12 14:40
EFF leader Julius Malema. (Netwerk24)

EFF leader Julius Malema. (Netwerk24)

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A fierce battle for control of the EFF is brewing ahead of provincial conference in Gauteng expected to set the tone for the party's second elective conference in 2019.

Members are jostling for positions within the party in an attempt to ensure they are in poll position to go to provincial legislatures and national assembly after the general elections in 2019.

Gauteng was one of two provinces, along with KwaZulu-Natal that EFF leader Julius Malema said were due to hold provincial assemblies in 2017, but he explained at a breakfast engagement with political editors this week that the party wanted 90% of all the branches in the ward to be launched in order for this to happen. Branches in the province are currently being audited, after which they would go to regional conferences.

The contest for leadership has pitted current provincial chairperson Mandisa Mashego against former University of Johannesburg branch leader Abednego Mathole, who is better known as Msholozi.

Audio clips of a phone conversation purported to be of Mashego discussing how she would "deal" with Msholozi with an unknown branch leader have been posted on social media.

In them, Mashego says the branch leader must make sure his branch makes a pronouncement against Msholozi and those he is working with, and that he must mobilise his entire branch against them.

She claims her competitor is causing divisions in a particular ward and asks that a complaint be lodged against him.

Gone too far

"Msholozi… you will see what happens with Msholozi, he is a Lufono Gogoro," she says, referring to an expelled EFF member.

"They have gone a step too far, I don't care that they are lobbying for what," added Mashego.

News24 spoke to several members claiming the current provincial leadership has been failing the party, with others insisting the EFF's central command team should dissolve it. Something EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni pointed out would be useless as Gauteng is preparing for a provincial assembly.

Members of the party also recently submitted a memorandum of complaints about both the provincial and regional leadership of Tshwane.

The memo dated May 3, 2018, stated that members express frustration with both these structures and claim that their lack of confidence has been communicated numerous times, through letters to the secretary general Gorich Gardee's office but often go unanswered.

Some members marched to the party's head office last week to deliver the memorandum, in which they claim Gauteng and Tshwane's command teams are failing the organisation.

"In Tshwane the organisation is suffering because the current RCT is obsessed with keeping itself in power, even if it means the organisation must die in their hand that will happen as it is happening in Tshwane today," they said in the letter to their national leaders.

They further claim "real" branches had been disbanded and replaced with bogus branches which are "celebrated and paraded to legitimise the corruption of the current RTC".

There are many problems in Gauteng

Mashego and her team of leaders in the province are accused of failing to address challenges in Tshwane where the RTC's term of office has expired.

"The current RCT of Tshwane has made history by exceeding its term of office and nothing is being done by the higher structure to observe and make sure the constitution is not contravened nor tempered with," claimed the members.

Malema speaking of the party's preparations towards their national assembly in 2019 said the EFF was in its formative stage and did not welcome any attempts to damage its image. He said it would deal "decisively" with those who sought to march to its offices.

"Anyone who marches to the office of the EFF, you have defied yourself outside of the organisation. There is no marching here, because we listen to everything, we attend to everything, there is nothing that we are not attending to," he said on Thursday.

He added that party members needed to write letters to higher structures if they had issues.

News24 speaking to several members of the party in the province, who did not want to be named claiming they feared they would be dealt with "harshly" by their party say there are many problems in Gauteng.

"Everyone who is currently leading and deployed in council or the legislature don't want to give up their jobs. They are the people with resources in terms of funds and cars," claimed one fighter.

He also claimed there were two major factions in the four-year-old political party.

"You have the continuity versus the anti-continuity people here. The anti-continuity group has the genuine interests of growing the party, they firmly believe that the current leaders are lazy and aren't helping the organisation," said the party member.

The EFF member said there were leaders in the party who relied solely on its leader Julius Malema's presence to win over supporters instead of doing their part to grow the EFF.

"He meets the organisation halfway through his activities in parliament, in the courts and appearances when he visits different parts of the country and speaks at rallies," said the member.

'We don't play'

Malema himself said the party would not tolerate laziness from its members.

"There is too much laziness in the ANC which goes unpunished and then you want to bring that in the EFF… we punish laziness in the EFF, we don't play," said Malema to editors.

"The EFF is at a formative stage, this is where we build traditions and cultures of doing things, they must know that there's no new dawn in the EFF, there is a permanent dawn of discipline and doing your work is part of that discipline," added Malema.

Another party member said he found faults in both the so-called continuity and anti-continuity factions of the party.

"Msholozi and his people go around disrupting branch meetings. They are trying to delay processes towards the assemblies," said the party member.

"Msholozi honestly has no capacity to lead, he is self-seeking and definitely not trying to grow the EFF. He is dividing it," he said.

The EFF member added that supporters in Gauteng were also not happy with Mashego's leadership.

"She has no leadership skills and is terrible when it comes to the treatment of people. Mandisa also can't follow processes properly so it's hard to defend her," said the insider.

"Msholozi honestly has no capacity to lead. He is self-seeking and definitely not trying to grow but instead divide the organisation," said the insider.

The EFF's secretary responding to some of the allegations on behalf of the Gauteng provincial leadership told News24 that the EFF like other political parties had disgruntled members and that it was not "pure".

"In every organisation there will be disgruntled elements. It's in their best interest to conduct themselves with decorum," noted the EFF secretary general.

Gardee said it was a question of how members wanted to raise issues.

"If they challenge leadership in open spaces, in such a dirty fight they are no different from Lufuno Gogoro, Mpho Ramakatsa and Andile Mngxitama," said Gardee bringing up axed members of the EFF.

We didn't expect that there would be no other Mngxitama's, Gogoro's or Ramakatsa's, he added.

He complained of those who posted audio clips of Mashego on social media stating that in time they would expose themselves.

"They will be rejected by membership. If they are indeed so powerful then why they don't start their own spaza shop," he questioned.

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