Newly-elected EFF secretary-general Marshall Dlamini is a fixer whose political career took off during the expulsion of party leader Julius Malema from the ANC eight years ago.Unlike the majority of EFF leaders who are former ANC Youth League (ANCYL) leaders, Dlamini, who hails from uMzimkhulu, had never occupied a leadership position in either the league or the ANC.Several ANC activists who were in leadership positions within the ANCYL in the ruling party’s Harry Gwala region, which includes uMzimkhulu, do not recall Dlamini playing an active role in the ANC structures. “I know almost all the comrades who were active within the ANCYL in the uMzikhulu and the entire Harry Gwala region — Marshall Dlamini is not amongst them,” said former ANCYL leader Thabiso Zulu, who is a former ANC Harry Gwala regional spokesperson.Dlamini, who replaced former EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee, was elected during the party’s National People’s Assembly (NPA) held in Johannesburg over the weekend.The NPA also re-elected Malema and his deputy, Floyd Shivambu.Simon Ngobese, another ANC activist in the Harry Gwala region, said Dlamini’s interest was more in business than politics.“We all knew him as a businessman with very little interest in politics. We were all surprised when we saw him playing a leading role during the EFF’s formation a few years ago. Marshall was certainly not part of the ANCYL leaders who resigned to join the EFF following Malema’s expulsion from the ANC,” he said.According to Ngobese, there were rumours that Dlamini was introduced to Malema by the late former ANCYL secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, who also hailed from uMzimkhulu.“When Julius, Shivambu and Magaqa were removed from the ANCYL leadership, they became stranded and were desperately in need of cash to fund their fight-back campaign within the ANC.“It is during that period that Dlamini came into the picture and bankrolled Julius and the other ANCYL leaders who had been thrown out by the ANC. When the fight-back campaign did not work, Julius and the other ANCYL then resolved to launch the EFF,” he said.Dlamini, who is also an EFF MP, is said to have used his own money to fund EFF programmes in KZN, resulting in the party’s support in the province growing substantially in the May general elections.When Malema visited Howick a few months ago to lead an EFF protest to the ANC-led uMngeni Municipality, it was Dlamini who was at his side, with KZN provincial chairperson Vusi Khoza, the head of the party in the province, relegated to the fringes.The EFF, which won two provincial legislature seats in the 2014 general elections, increased its seats to eight in May.Malema, who is rumored to have given Dlamini all the credit for the EFF’s growth in KZN, is said to have pushed hard for him to be elected secretary-general at the party’s NPA.When The Witness contacted Dlamini for an interview yesterday, the new EFF secretary-general insisted that the request should be made through the party’s national spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, who could not be reached.