- The EFF says it does not agree to the opening up sectors of the economy without scientific evidence
- "Those saying people die of hunger are misleading us, no graves of hunger, there are graves of people killed by apartheid, there are graves of people killed by diseases," says Julius Malema
- Malema says the government's recent response to move to Level 3 and the Covid-19 pandemic is like the history of apartheid repeating itself, but in a different format.
The EFF says ending the lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus makes no sense and has urged South Africans to be defiant and stay at home.
It held its first media briefing on Thursday since the pandemic hit.
Leader Julius Malema said the party's protracted silence was due to the understanding it could not sacrifice people's lives at the "alter of political convenience and opportunism".
"We refused to respond to even the most provocative temptations of the ruling party using its councillors in party colours to distribute food parcels from government and donors."
But the firebrand came out fighting on Thursday, hitting out at President Cyril Ramaphosa and his government as well as private companies, which he said were all sabotaging the lockdown and would only result in the deaths of scores of the country's black population.
The red berets made it clear it did not agree with the shift toward a lower level of the lockdown, saying it needed to be supported by science, cautioning that even the World Health Organisation felt South Africa was not ready for it.
"After 21 days of the lockdown, private white monopoly capital launched a campaign against the lockdown, using the media and fly-by-night research and lobby groups. This campaign discredited the lockdown strategy, demanded alcohol and cigarette sales, while claiming that more people will die of hunger than Covid-19," said Malema.
"If this white economy must collapse, let it collapse. If we are going to die of hunger, let us die with our boots on. It's not our economy. We must stay at home. If we are going to die because of hunger, let us die with our boots on. Let us die proud.
"If we are going to be killed by the disease let it find us with our boots on, in our own homes. If death comes, let it come but we must die proud that we defied the white economy."
'Fight to make sure there's redress'
He said the EFF would go to the courts to ensure that the constitutional obligation to ensure redress in South Africa was not undone as it battled the coronavirus.
Malema said right-wing political parties were attempting to undo this legislation to further white interests, adding the presence of Covid-19 in the country did not warrant the right to remove a clause that sought to correct the injustices of the past.
He questioned why the financial sector was never forced to give its own workers payment holidays for at least three months, saying many continued paying insurance, medical aid, bonds, loans and rent instalments, weakening their ability to focus on essentials during the lockdown.
Malema criticised the banks for continuing to demand monthly payments from people in a crisis, saying this had led to small businesses facing evictions and mounting interests on existing loans.
While he called on the government to stop enriching white-owned and controlled banks to guarantee mortgages of ordinary people to prevent undue evictions and the repossession of their homes during the Covid-19 pandemic, Malema said the EFF wanted a moratorium of 12 months on house and car repossessions by private banks.
"Many people are going to lose their jobs and should not be condemned to absolute poverty and homelessness because of a pandemic that they did not create."
He said this in light of expectations that unemployment is set to exceed 50%.
Malema added the EFF was aware that many places of employment had opened without health and compliance standards in place and there were companies who claimed UIF but had not paid it out to their employees.
"We have also established a labour desk under the leadership of national chairperson Veronica Mente and commissars Natasha Ntlangwini and Mpho Morolane which will be assisting workers who are being mistreated by their employers."
No clear plan for unemployment grant
He said while the party welcomed the increased social grants and introduction of basic income grant for the duration of the global health crisis, it wanted these to be made permanent.
"The government has still not come with a clear plan and strategy on the payment of the R350 per person because millions of unemployed youth who are not in education and training have no bank accounts, and these are the poorest of the poor."
Malema cautioned against claims the Department of Social Development intended to resuscitate its relationship with CPS and NET1 through a company called GOVTECH, which were both found wanting in how they previously assisted in the dispensing of social grants by the Constitutional Court, warning the government should not use the pandemic to undermine the courts.