Pregnant woman among 6 injured at EFF conference scuffle

EFF members at the party’s National People’s Assembly. Picture: Jabu Khumalo
EFF members at the party’s National People’s Assembly. Picture: Jabu Khumalo

The election of the EFF’s top six leadership on Saturday night was marred by clashes between delegates and the EFF’s para-military security unit, popularly known as the Defenders of the Revolution (DOR).

A leader of the DOR known as “The General” – who is always hidden behind a mask – allegedly pepper-sprayed numerous delegates queuing for food.

Several people were taken to hospital after inhaling pepper-spray.

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told City Press that “all affected delegates were taken to Baragwanath Hospital but all were discharged this morning”.

“The General has since been fired following last night’s incident. He gave us the explanation that the pepper-spray had fallen and discharged spraying delegates unintentionally,” said Ndlozi.

But delegates speaking to City Press said he sprayed them.

Ndlozi said it was unfortunate that pregnant and asthmatic individuals were affected.

The General told City Press that the injuries were as a result of a stampede.

On Sunday morning no members of the DOR were in sight, but Ndlozi said only “The General” had been dismissed.

EFF leader Julius Malema defended the DOR, saying: “Don’t be excited. You just stand up here and say, ‘We don’t want DOR! We don’t want DOR!’ A product of DOR. You come from disrupted conferences that were protected by DOR, you come here you get excited. You must never be excited. For us to be here those people of DOR had to put their lives at risk.”

He said the party should train the DOR to deal with legitimate delegates.

“But when it comes to rascals and any agent provocateur they must deal with it decisively without thinking twice in protection of the red flag, the EFF. We are in crisis here. People attack our meetings all the time ... The police are hostile to the EFF. They belong to the regime which is hostile to the EFF,” Malema said.

Meanwhile, the EFF has infused new blood into its top six and finally has a gender balanced leadership. Delegates voted for the new leadership to take them forward for the next five years at its 2nd National People’s Assembly on Saturday evening.

As expected, only party leader Malema and deputy president Floyd Shivambu retained their positions.

It was, however not a smooth return to power for Shivambu as former national chairperson Advocate Dali Mpofu was also nominated for the same position.

Mpofu accepted the nomination but failed to meet the threshold of 30% (954) of the delegates to take the contest to a secret ballot.

It was an easy victory for Malema who retained his position uncontested.

A senior leader in the EFF on Saturday told City Press that the party’s leadership had been in talks with Mpofu trying to urge him not to avail himself for any position.

“For the sake of the spirit of this young party, leadership urged Mpofu not to stand as the contestation – should the vote go to a secret ballot –would be detrimental and take a long time to undo,” said the leader.

Delegates erupted in celebration on the announcement that Mpofu’s candidature had fallen as a result of not making the cut.

Having advocated for gender equality during his political report, Malema’s wish to see more women take up the mantle within the party soon came through as Veronica Mente, Omphile Maotwe and Poppy Mailola were elected chairperson, treasurer general and deputy secretary general respectively.

The secretary general position which was held by Godrich Gardee was taken upon by contentious EFF KZN provincial leader Marshall Dlamini.

The outcome demonstrated that the faction aligned with the party leader and deputy – calling itself “Matorokisi” – has a greater support base than the rival faction “Amapiano” which objected to Shivambu and Dlamini taking up positions of leadership.

- Additional reporting by News24

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