Free berets do not win votes – EFF

Latching on to protests and dishing out its signature red berets did not help the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) win votes, the party has admitted.

In its 230-page policy discussion document, prepared for its first conference, or National People’s Assembly, next month, the party says it did not do as well as it thought it would in the May 7 polls.

The EFF won 6% of the vote nationwide. This translated into 25 seats in the 400-seat National Assembly.

The party admits in its discussion document that this was generally considered by outsiders as a success for a new party, but was “far below what [the] majority of the members and leaders of the EFF anticipated”.

“A great lesson out of the elections has been a realisation that joining into protests the EFF did not start does not automatically translate into electoral support,” reads the document.

“Winning voters does not naturally come on the basis that there were red berets at the forefront of a protest action.

“What wins the electorate are properly constituted structures, united and cogent campaigns.”

The December congress will be a big test for the party’s ability to remain united during a leadership contest.

But party leader Julius Malema is not expected to be challenged for the top job.

The discussion document reads like a party manifesto and an academic script combined, some of the 12 chapters even end with a bibliography.

The document also sets out criteria that EFF leaders should adhere to.

The EFF is a party for the “working class and the poor masses” and an elected leader must have a bias towards this class, says the document.

The leaders should also not:

»?Be associated with practices that “negate working people’s interests”.

»?Subscribe to feudal or primitive capitalistic tendencies, including narrow nationalism and sexist chauvinism.

»?Hold shares in any company or hold directorship in any privately owned enterprise.

»?Receive two or more salaries.

»?Rent houses that they own to others.

»?Adjudicate in transactions that are in conflict with the party’s principles.

If leaders do not abide by these rules, the EFF “will be firm in discipline and gentle in disbursing punishment that shall be proportional with the nature and severity of transgressions committed”.

Ordinary members are also subject to strict discipline.

“The provision of [the] EFF’s constitution that relates to the admission of members should be adhered to, and if it is discovered that a man/woman does not appear to accept the creed, faith, the objects, and the rules and discipline of the organisation, he/she should not be accepted as a member.

“Should he/she be discovered later that he/she does not, nothing less than a summary expulsion should be preferred against such a person,” says the party in the document.

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