Battle of the bands: Will it be Amatorokisi vs Amapiano at EFF's second conference?

EFF leader Julius Malema addressing supporters at Philippi Stadium in Cape Town. (Gallo Images/Lulekwa Mbadaman, file)
EFF leader Julius Malema addressing supporters at Philippi Stadium in Cape Town. (Gallo Images/Lulekwa Mbadaman, file)

The so-called "Amapiano" and "Amatorokisi" factions will not matter when the EFF finally sits for its much-anticipated second national people's assembly to elect new leaders and assess its policy positions next month, according to party insiders.

EFF members have been grappling with the state of the organisation, slate politics and the future of the party as it heads to the assembly which starts on December 13.

The name "Amapiano", which stems from the latest electronic music genre sweeping across the nation, has been co-opted by a group of members calling for advocate Dali Mpofu, who is the current EFF chairperson, to return to its top six leadership.

Mpofu has reportedly fallen out of favour with the party's leader, or commander-in-chief as he is better known among members, Julius Malema.

A number of members have also raised concerns about Mpofu's ability to deliver as party chairperson due to his busy legal schedule.

READ: EFF leader makes case for Dali Mpofu to quit as national chairperson

The "Amatorokisi", named after a popular song from Venda artist named Makhadzi, is seen to back Malema and what has been speculated to be his desired outcomes at the conference.

It is believed Marshall Dlamini is Malema's preferred candidate for the position of secretary-general.

"I honestly can't see contestation when we finally sit. There is no secret ballot, this will make it difficult to contest," said a conference delegate, close to some of the party's top leaders, to News24 on condition of anonymity.

An expected 4 500 party members are expected to gather at Nasrec from December 13 to 16.

"People forget Julius is also a delegate, the likelihood is he will second the nomination of those he supports, then Limpopo - after seeing the CIC's hand raised - will follow his lead and that candidate reaches threshold," continued the party member.

The insider said while some others in the party might want to push forward a different name, chances were that Malema's folded arms would be read as a sign that he was not in favour of those candidates and as a result would not meet the threshold.

The red berets - unlike the ANC - do not hold nomination processes outside of their conference but this has not stopped members from lobbying, in the hope that their favoured leaders will be elected into office for the next five years.

"You also can't say we are factional or into slate politics, we all agree that Malema should continue leading," said the source, insisting the EFF was deliberate on defining itself outside of the ANC from which some of its leaders hail from.

Factional slates

While both Amapiano sympathisers and Amatorokisi backers wish to see Malema return to the helm, they are divided over his deputy, Floyd Shivambu; the secretariat which is currently under the leadership of Godrich Gardee and his deputy, Hlengiwe Maxon; the position of treasurer-general, currently occupied by Leigh-Ann Mathys, and the chairperson post.

Amatorokisi's favoured top six leadership would see Malema being deputised by Shivambu, with Dlamini as secretary, Mpumalanga's Poppy Mailola as his deputy, with former Gauteng treasurer Omphile Maotwe elected to take over the role of treasurer-general. It is understood this faction backs parliamentarian Veronica Mente as chairperson.

The Amapiano group, which seems less organised, have punted Mpofu's name, with some in this faction saying they would support whatever position he wished to contest.

Numerous reports have suggested he might not return to the EFF leadership structure due to his busy legal schedule, however, some have claimed a fallout with Malema was the reason why the man dubbed the "people’s advocate" could find himself out in the cold.

"You need to go way back with Dali's issue. He embarrassed the party when it was calling out then Idols judge Gareth Cliff; he represented him and won, that completely enraged Malema," said one of the sources, who also detailed a blistering attack by the EFF leader against Mpofu following that chapter.

Mpofu has also been accused of under-performing in the lead up to the elections, having been first made responsible for campaigning ahead of the elections in KwaZulu-Natal, before being moved to the Eastern Cape.

"He was just unable to mobilise [support] and capitalised just on his name," continued the first insider.

According to a member of the Amapiano faction, their idea to keep Mpofu in the party had support from numerous provinces including parts of KZN, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Free State.

The second party insider, who is a provincial leader claimed part of the Amapiano mission was to rescue the EFF from its own leaders, complaining of Shivambu's behaviour and claiming he was not fit to lead.

The same member said the red berets still needed Malema but argued a time would come when he would no longer be fit to lead, and the party would have to survive without him.

While admitting to lobbying for Mpofu's return to the leadership structure was being driven by contentious figures such as Tshepo Kamvelihle Goba and Abednego Mathole, better known as Msholozi, the insider questioned their motives.

"Honestly speaking, this is not about Dali for them, it's about their own issues with the party," said the second insider.

The EFF has previously admonished the two and also declared they were no longer party members.

However, Msholozi insisted he remained a member in good standing, claiming he had not received a letter expelling him from the EFF.

He said he believed Mpofu needed to return as one of the party's top leaders, claiming the advocate had what it took to grow the EFF.

"Personally, I think if he becomes the SG [secretary-general] the organisation will grow. The position of chairperson is honestly a graveyard position, a retirement position, he could do more in the secretariat," Msholozi told News24.

"You can't reduce a cadre like Dali to just being an advocate."

Msholozi disagreed with those who claimed Mpofu's schedule as an advocate made it hard for him to commit to EFF activities, claiming Malema was busier than Mpofu but no one questioned his ability to play his role as leader.

When asked if his involvement in the EFF's  upcoming conference was to sow division he denied it, claiming they were seen as rebels purely because they dared to differ with Malema.

"We genuinely believe Dali is not factionalist. Those who think we are sowing division don't know politics," Msholozi said.

"They think when they see his hand, they think that's the general view, like he's the pope, a deputy Jesus, a Messiah and then assume his view is the only one," remarked Msholozi, commenting on the perceived influence Malema could have on nominations.

While he said he had no issues with other leaders, he felt strongly that Gardee, who both Mathole and Goba had a punch-up with at the party's Braamfontein headquarters last year, had to go.

"We don't think the EFF can afford to lose someone like Mokone. The EFF needs Julius, it needs Dali and I think it needs Leigh-Ann."

"Godrich is a factionalist of high note, with him the organisation will never go anywhere. He must go do his internship, he just graduated,” added Msholozi.

He also had very little to say about the party's spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, who has been pegged by some as a potential secretary-general and Shivambu.

"They are just ordinary and can be easily replaced, we can just go to Wits' [the University of Witwatersrand] BA class and find another Floyd.

"Mbuyiseni is also ordinary, we can go find someone who speaks English and replace him," he continued.

Another party insider, who did not want to be named, said Maotwe, whose ascendancy to Parliament cost KwaZulu-Natal's Lungi Gabuza her party membership after refusing to make way for her on the parliamentary list, was a firm favourite for a number of reasons.

Gabuza's attempt to appeal her expulsion was turned down on Wednesday, the same day that Maotwe was being sworn in as an MP.

"She is going to make it, she made way for people who wanted to go to the legislature in 2014. That move earned Malema's respect," said the third source.

"Remember, whoever is picked by Julius will be accepted, whether they are known or not," continued the source.

But the second source refuted this, claiming Maotwe was not liked because of her principles but she was trusted and expected to protect and control the party's coffers to Malema’s benefit.

Attempts to find out who will be contesting for which positions from the EFF's top six have been difficult, with Malema declaring all positions including his would be up for grabs and that only when nominations take place at conference will the media know who is available to serve in the different capacities in the party.

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