The fragile unity of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is under threat, with members of the party vowing to stop leader Julius Malema from speaking in the Free State and singing anti-Malema songs at a funeral last weekend.
Further signs of internal ructions include a letter written by the party’s former commissar on land, Andile Mngxitama, to Malema, asking him to stop the purge of members from the party.
In an email from Mngxitama to Malema this week, which City Press has seen, Mngxitama tells Malema: “I need to bring to your attention a very worrying post-NPA (National People’s Assembly) development. Contrary to your words when closing the NPA – that there shall be no witch-hunts and punishment of fighters – the truth is there is general fear within the staff of the EFF in the various regions and provinces.
“This fear is generated by threats and actual dismissals of EFF employees, often without due process, or worse, by sheer intimidation.
“President, we are a socialist party. We need to lead by example when it comes to the rights of workers.”
The email goes on to clarify Mngxitama’s concerns relating to EFF employees in the Free State provincial office. Staff members said to be in the firing line are an admin secretary, a general assistant and a legislature administrator – whose names are known to City Press.
At the funeral of one of the party’s lawyers, Peter Danster, in Kroonstad, Free State, hundreds of members reportedly sang anti-Malema songs.
One of the party’s regional coordinators from the area, who requested that his name be withheld, explained why: “They were very angry because of what happened at the NPA – people were appointed, not elected.
“Malema has already disbanded most of the party’s old structures,” said the source.
Sabata Seitlheko, an EFF member from Mangaung in charge of organisational development in the region, confirmed that the inflammatory songs had been sung.
The biggest bone of contention for those upset with Malema appears to be “the sidelining” of Mpho Ramakatsa, the EFF’s former national coordinator, who failed to make the party’s top six and is now an “ordinary member” of the EFF, though still an MP.
“Malema and his allies are now purging those they think are Ramakatsa allies,” said one source.
One such person is said to be Austin Semela, who until Tuesday was working in the party’s Bloemfontein office, typing up membership forms for a R3 000 salary. He claims he was summarily fired.
“My boss [EFF provincial chairperson Khotso Morapela] accused me of taking instructions from Ramakatsa and said that he was a dangerous man. I’ve gone to the CCMA for resolution because I didn’t received any written warnings before they fired me. It was merely a verbal dismissal.”
Ramakatsa explained that he had been instructed by Morapela that he was not to be part of the party’s top six, but should accept a position as one of the additional 35. He refused and stood for the secretary-general position, but failed to garner the 30% required for nomination.
When asked if he also expected to be “purged” from his position in Parliament, Ramakatsa said: “I’d rather not talk about that right now.”
When asked for comment about the email he wrote to Malema, Mngxitama preferred not to comment. He would not say if he had received a reply.
The party’s acting spokesperson, Fana Mokoena, said: “Julius is not part of any of this nonsense. Democracy took place at the NPA. We knew some people would not be happy. I know nothing about purges. It’s now so soon after the NPA that there hasn’t really been official business yet. I would have to investigate this,” Mokoena said.
“There are many people in the party who bring baggage from other organisations with them. It’s not under our control, but Julius made it clear that the last thing we should do is purge anyone, anywhere.”
He also said there was no way Ramakatsa would lose his MP seat as “it would look bad and that’s also not what we want”.
When asked for comment, Morapela said Semela was a volunteer and the R3 000 was a stipend for transport and other costs.
He claimed to have a good relationship with Ramakatsa. “I respect him and believe he respects me too.”