Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has discouraged metalworkers’ union Numsa and expelled labour federation Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi from forming a political party, urging them to start a workers’ federation EFF workers could support.
This comes in the wake of indications that Numsa has already formed a workers’ party called the United Front that could contest next year’s local government elections.
Malema was speaking at a May Day rally in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth, where he addressed about 7 000 EFF supporters.
“Irvin Jim and Vavi are wasting time. They are talking past each other. As long as they don’t form a political party, they are fine.
“Because a political party for workers is here. It’s called the EFF. They must form a union. We will give them workers. We have workers in the EFF who don’t have a union. They must be a federation that’s not aligned to any political party, but aligned to workers alone,” said Malema.
Numsa’s Jim responded that what Malema was raising was open to debate, but that it was up to the United Front to decide what to do when it was launched in June.
But he said it was not up to the EFF to say no to the formation of a political party, as doing so was the aspiration of the working class.
“But definitely, the EFF has taken a political posture that is not hostile to the working class,” added Jim.
Malema called on Vavi, Jim and Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa to form a federation that would take the fight to the ANC-aligned Cosatu, which had expelled Vavi and Numsa.
Malema said: “We don’t want them [the EFF] to tell workers to vote for the EFF. Workers are not stupid, they can decide for themselves. The EFF must earn the vote of the workers.”
Malema said the EFF was not planning to form a federation because it had faith in the leadership of Vavi and Jim to lead a labour movement.
“We trust Vavi and Jim. We know they are the best leaders of the workers. We believe in their cause. Vavi has been expelled. He must move on like Malema did.”
He said Vavi should demonstrate to “those ANC criminals” that there was life outside the ANC and Cosatu.
Malema, who got a hero’s welcome as he made his way into the big marquee erected at the centre of the cricket pitch, wowed the crowd with his frank, mostly off-the-cuff speech.
He said it was time Cosatu was “put in its place” by an alternative federation with no links to the ANC.
EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee said the party was open to coalitions with any political party, as long as it agreed to the EFF’s terms.
Should Zwelinzima Vavi and Irvin Jim listen to Julius Malema and not form their own party to challenge the EFF and other parties in next year’s local government elections.