Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema wants 9 million votes or more in the upcoming general election.
To this end, EFF public representatives have strict instructions to deliver at least half of those votes to secure their future positions.
Last month, at a meeting with public representatives in Boksburg in Ekurhuleni, Malema gave stringent marching orders to the red berets, saying the EFF should hit the million voters mark in each of the country’s nine provinces.
According to four senior sources who attended the elections workshop, all EFF councillors, MPLs and MPs must each recruit 5 000 new voters, who must pledge to vote for the party next year.
The party’s headquarters in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, will verify the records, including whether the potential voters are registered with the Independent Electoral Commission of SA.
The campaign appears to have injected vigour into EFF members and supporters.
A prominent leader boasted that he was a few hundred names short of the 5 000 target and, earlier this month, EFF national spokesperson Sixolise Gcilishe challenged excited followers on social media to join the recruitment campaign, tweeting that she planned to lobby at least 23 people every day until the elections.
The EFF Student Command at the University of the Witwatersrand uses the slogan, #OneProvinceOneMillionVotes, as part of its ongoing Student Representative Council election campaign.
Several insiders were reluctant to speak to City Press about the adopted election strategy, saying the party’s game plan was confidential in order to surprise the ANC and the DA.
At the very least, the party was looking at gaining 3.5 million voters, described as the sweet spot to ensure a coalition government at national level.
In 2016, all the EFF proportional representation councillors from wards that received less than 100 votes were ordered to withdraw from councils. They were replaced by ward candidates of the party that received the most votes.
The 2019 elections is the first opportunity for the EFF to prepare for elections with sufficient time – unlike in 2014, when the party had eight months to get ready.
Provinces that delivered the bulk of the EFF’s votes in both the 2014 general elections and the 2016 municipal polls are set to become the focus of the EFF.
These include the highly contested Gauteng, where the size of election budgets will become a key factor to woo the urban middle class.
The EFF is expected to invest at least 60% of its election budget in Gauteng.
In previous polls, main opposition party the DA had pumped millions into winning the city of Johannesburg as well as the province, and the EFF is hard-pressed to also be competitive.
Gauteng EFF chairperson Mandisa Mashego said the party had focused on deliberate strategies and activities, and would “target our efforts towards high-volume areas and make sure our message is clearly understood by all through robust interactive engagement”.
Mashego said the province was looking to treble or quadruple its support, which would take it from eight seats in the provincial legislature to 24 or 32 out of a total of 73 seats.
She said the working class in Gauteng formed part of the party’s core constituency, adding: “Many professionals and industry experts are promising to vote for the EFF and to make contributions to our manifesto.”
The other two provincial strongholds for the EFF are in the North West and Limpopo, where Malema met with followers this week.
The party also hosted a political induction session for its Gauteng structures on Wednesday.
North West EFF spokesperson Jerry Matebesi said the party wanted to govern the province with an outright majority after the elections next year, adding that the internal statistics of all by-elections to date showed that EFF support declined in only one ward.
He said the party had launched structures in all of the four regions in the province and had branches in all the wards.
Matebesi highlighted the EFF’s performance in student elections as another indicator of its growth, particularly at the North West University’s Mafikeng campus.
An EFF leader told City Press that the surprise province in terms of their polling could be the Eastern Cape, which has surpassed the Free State in terms of potential party growth.
“The intervention at national level to deploy senior leaders to the province to solve internal matters worked magic. Somehow our people there are more willing to listen to advice from outsiders than their own local colleagues.”
The party’s Eastern Cape leader, Xolisa Runeli, referred queries to party headquarters, saying that a provincial conference to elect leaders was scheduled for this week, “so it would be ill disciplined to speak on their behalf”.