Julius Malema opens up on EFF problems

Julius Malema at the party’s second national elective conference. Picture: Rosetta Msimango
Julius Malema at the party’s second national elective conference. Picture: Rosetta Msimango

Covering a range of concerns over dysfunctional structures, the leader again made the case for a woman’s command

EFF leader Julius Malema has laid bare some of the weaknesses of his party, saying that they are a hindrance to the EFF’s electoral growth.

Malema was tabling his political report before the party’s second national elective conference – referred to by the party as the national people’s assembly – which kicked off in Johannesburg yesterday.

More than 3 000 delegates have gathered to elect new leadership as the party enters its sixth year of existence.

Read: The cost of the EFF's elective conference? 32m and counting

“The EFF has not built adequate internal capacity to win municipal ward-based elections,” Malema told delegates.

“This is a huge problem in light of the fact that municipal elections are ward-based. We need to build capacity to win wards and municipalities.

“The reason that most of you do not win wards is that you are not known to your communities. Even when we campaign for you, they ask who you are.

“Most regional structures are directionless and do not have the necessary impact expected from EFF structures. Most provincial leaders do not know the length and breadth of their provinces, and the provincial command teams do not meet from time to time, as expected of them.

“Regions do not meet consistently and have no mechanisms to monitor the work of branches.

“Branches are not fully functional: they are not engaged in any programmes, and the majority of them only meet during elections or when assemblies are approaching.”

Clarifying his comments at the ensuing press briefing, Malema said he had merely pointed out that he would like the organisation to do better, adding that the structures were not in a crisis.

“At least 90% of branches have been launched, but it is not to the expectation of the leadership. We are at a formative stage. You cannot expect that we will have branches stronger than those of established organisations.”

Turning his attention to the party’s higher structures, Malema said that not everyone was pulling their weight equally. He warned delegates to be circumspect in the choices they made when electing new leaders.

Almost a decade of fiery red politics

“It is so disappointing that you can have a national leader of the EFF who cannot articulate the vision or anything with clarity,” said Malema.

“I hope that this conference will not use the EFF’s central command team (CCT) as a dumping area for mediocrity. You must provide us with the best of the best.

“The CCT committees are not fully functional. Despite being assigned to specific tasks, most commissars seated here do not do anything related to their CCT portfolios. They must not lie.

“A substantial number of EFF leaders – mostly those deployed in positions of responsibility – are not loyal to the EFF, but are loyal to their positions of deployment. You are going to see it when this conference is over: Some of them are not going to be elected, and they are going to start insulting the organisation after not being elected.”

Weighing in on what he believed should be some of the key takeaways of the congress, Malema said he hoped that the new leadership would figure out how to lead the party in purchasing the offices in which it operated, given that all of these offices were currently rented.

Regarding the scourge of gender-based violence, Malema opened the debate on the need for the establishment of a women’s structure within the organisation, saying that it was long overdue and a necessary addition.

“Those who say that having a woman’s command undermines the intelligence of women, and those who say that the issue can be dealt with in the mother body – where men are already dominating – are missing the political advantage of having a separate exclusive force.”

Malema said that matters related to women’s struggles could not be left to men. “We must have a separate and exclusive force in the EFF called the woman’s command.

“When workers are abused, you agree that they can form a trade union; when students are abused in schools, you agree that they can form a student union. Yet, when women are abused, raped, killed and exploited by men, you say that they must not unite as women and fight back. You want them to work against men – the same men who rape them.

“We are saying that anyone who says that women must work with men who abuse them is lost. We need women to unite on their own and fight any man who abuses them, because women have a responsibility to protect each other.

“When a woman is contesting a man, you have a responsibility to support the woman.”

He said that these comments about the women’s command were his input and were nothing new, because discussions were already under way within the party.

While reiterating his belief that the EFF student command was necessary, he said it needed to be more radical in its mandate. He spoke from experience, he said, after having led youth movements which became “a party within a party”.

Malema was criticised last month when he questioned the relevance of the student command.

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