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The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is a South African far-left[15] political party. It was founded by expelled former African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) President Julius Malema, and his allies, in 2013.[16] Malema is President of the EFF, heading the Central Command Team which serves as the central structure of the party.[17]

Economic Freedom Fighters
AbbreviationEFF
President & Commander in ChiefJulius Malema
Deputy PresidentFloyd Shivambu
ChairpersonDali Mpofu
Secretary-GeneralGodrich Gardee [Wikidata]
SpokespersonMbuyiseni Ndlozi
FounderJulius Malema
Founded26 July 2013 (2013-07-26)
Split fromAfrican National Congress
Headquarters82 De Korte Street,
Johannesburg,
Gauteng
Student wingEconomic Freedom Fighters Students' Command (EFFSC)
IdeologyCommunism[citation needed]
Marxism–Leninism[1][2]
Anti-capitalism[3][4]
Anti-imperialism
Pan-Africanism
Anti-Europeanism[5][6]
Left-wing populism[7]
Political positionFar-left[8][9][10][11][12][13]
International affiliationNone
ColoursRed[3][4][14]
Slogan"People’s Power for Economic Freedom in Our Lifetime"
National Assembly
44 / 400
National Council of Provinces
11 / 90
Pan-African Parliament
1 / 5
(South African seats)
Provincial Legislatures
50 / 430
City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality (council)
30 / 270
Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality (council)
6 / 120
City of Cape Town (council)
7 / 231
Website
www.effonline.org Edit this at Wikidata

It is currently the third-largest party in both houses of the South African Parliament.

HistoryEdit

At a 26 July 2013 press briefing in Soweto, Malema announced that the new party had over 1000 members, double the 500 required for registration with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).[18] The EFF is now registered with the IEC, after an objection to its registration by the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) was dismissed in September 2013.[19]

Splinters and infightingEdit

In 2015, the EFF suspended MP Lucky Twala and expelled three MPs, Mpho Ramakatsa, Andile Mngxitama and Khanyisile Litchfield-Tshabalala.[20] Mngxitama formed his own party, named Black First Land First (BLF), while Litchfield-Tshabalala joined the United Democratic Movement.[citation needed]

PoliciesEdit

 
A small march by the EFF on Mandela Day (18 July) 2014 near the parliament building in Cape Town protesting in support of land reform in South Africa.

The EFF "draws inspiration from the broad Marxist–Leninist tradition and Fanonian schools of thought in their analyses of the state, imperialism, culture and class contradictions in every society", according to one of its declarations.[21]

It criticises the African National Congress and their primary opposition, the Democratic Alliance, for their allegedly pro-business stances, which it claims have sold out the black people of South Africa to capitalism as cheap labour. It promises to tackle corruption, provide quality social housing, and provide free primary healthcare and education for all, as well as proposing to expropriate stolen land, nationalise the mining and banking sectors, double welfare grants and the minimum wage, and end the proposed toll system for highways.[22]

The EFF takes significant inspiration from Thomas Sankara in terms of both style and ideology.[23] In a May 2014 column, the prominent EFF member Jackie Shandu declared his party a "proudly Sankarist formation".[24]

The EFF has been vocal in its criticism of black business owners and black owners of mining companies in South Africa. In an address at the Oxford Union in November 2015, Malema spoke out against billionaire mining company owner Patrice Motsepe.[25][26] Further protests in 2015, the EFF delivered demands that included the socialization of the mining sector and called for more explicit targets for the 26% BEE ownership required by law.[27] The EFF is a vocal proponent of expanding the role of South African state owned enterprises in the country's economy.[28][29]

Malema addressed a crowd in Marikana, Rustenburg in the platinum mining area, blaming mining companies and calling out platinum mining company Lonmin in particular, for poverty in the region.[30]

The party supports the re-introduction of the death penalty.[31][32]

In 2016, after local elections in South Africa, the EFF has suggested that they will back the Democratic Alliance in hung-metro areas, but would not be entering into a coalition with any political party in South Africa.[33]

The EFF was the only parliamentary party that opposed the 2018 political party funding bill.[34]

High-profile membersEdit

High-profile members of the Central Command Team include Floyd Shivambu, Fana Mokoena and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (National Spokesperson).[35] Controversial businessman Kenny Kunene joined the Central Command Team in July 2013 before resigning from the Central Command Team on 20 August 2013 and from the organisation on 26 August 2013.[36][37] On 4 November 2013, it was announced that Dali Mpofu had left the African National Congress (ANC) after 33 years of membership and joined the EFF.[38] Musician and actress Ntando Duma also publicly pledged allegiance to EFF in February 2019.

Support baseEdit

According to a November 2013 Ipsos survey, the party's supporters are younger than average, with 49% being younger than 24, overwhelmingly black (99%) and mostly male, with women representing only 33% of the support base. A disproportionate number of supporters live in Malema's home province of Limpopo (28%), while only 1% live in KwaZulu-Natal, a more populous province.[39]

The party was expected to make an impact in the 2014 general election, taking between 4 per cent and 8 per cent of the national vote. This was potentially enough for the party to hold the balance of power in provinces where the governing African National Congress was in danger of losing its absolute majority.[22] In fact, the ANC retained its absolute majority, but the EFF moved into third place, surging past the shrinking Inkatha Freedom Party, with a 6.35% share of the vote to the IFP's 2.40%.[citation needed]

Election resultsEdit

National electionsEdit

National AssemblyEdit

Election Total votes Share of vote Seats +/– Government
2014[40] 1,169,259 6.35%
25 / 400
  25 in opposition
2019 1,881,521 10.79%
44 / 400
  19 in opposition

National Council of ProvincesEdit

Election Total # of
seats won
+/–
2014
7 / 90
  7
2019
11 / 90
  4

Municipal electionsEdit

Election Votes %
2016[41] 3,202,679 8.31%

Provincial electionsEdit

Election
[40][42]
Eastern Cape Free State Gauteng Kwazulu-Natal Limpopo Mpumalanga North-West Northern Cape Western Cape
% Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats
2014 3.48% 2/63 8.15% 2/30 10.30% 8/73 1.85% 2/80 10.74% 6/49 6.26% 2/30 13.21% 5/33 4.96% 2/30 2.11% 1/42
2019 7.84% 5/63 12.58% 4/30 14.69% 11/73 9.71% 8/80 14.43% 7/49 12.79% 4/30 18.36% 6/33 9.71% 3/30 4.04% 2/42

AchievementsEdit

On 6 August 2015 the EFF announced that it has secured a Constitutional court case for its Jacob Zuma campaign of "#PayBackTheMoney". The case was heard on the 9 February 2016. The Judgement was released by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. The judgement stated that The President has violated the Constitution of South Africa, along with the Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete.[citation needed] The President was given 60 days to fulfill the requirements of the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.[43]

On 27 February 2018 the EFF tabled a motion in The National Assembly to amend the Constitution so as to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation. The motion, brought by the EFF leader Julius Malema, was adopted with a vote of 241 in support, and 83 against. The only parties who did not support the motion were the Democratic Alliance, Freedom Front Plus, Cope and the ACDP.[citation needed] Land Expropriation is one of the EFF's Seven cardinal pillars.[44]

In 2018, the student wing of the EFF, the EFF Student Command won many universities across the country. The red berets defeated the ANC-aligned South African Students Congress (Sasco) at the Durban University of Technology, the University of Zululand and Mangosuthu University of Technology.[citation needed] They also won in Cape Town, the District Six, Mowbray and Bellville Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) campuses with landslide victories, meaning they now are in charge of the institution's SRC. They also won the University of Cape Town.[citation needed] Peter Keetse, president of the EFFSC, said the win was a warning shot for what was going to happen in 2019 national general elections. He said the youth were the influencers of the future, “therefore, this is an indication of what is to follow”.[45]

Criticisms and controversiesEdit

The ANC has accused the Zimbabwean ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF), of supporting the EFF in order to destabilise the ANC.[46]

In October 2018, a group of 17 former EFF members and councillors in the Northern Cape accused the party's senior leadership of corruption and sexual exploitation of more junior female party members.[47] Four months later two former female employees of the EFF claimed that party leadership intimidated and engaged in acts of bullying behaviour towards them and other party staff members.[48]

In April 2019 a former member of the EFF's central command, Thembinkosi Rawula, accused senior party leaders of dictatorial leadership practices and of using party finances for personal benefit.[49] The EFF denied Rawula's accusation and stated that they would sue him for defamation as well as make the party's financials public.[50]

The EFF was found guilty of defamation of character in May 2019 by the South Gauteng High Court and ordered to pay R500,000 in damages to former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel.[51] Manuel brought the EFF and its leader, Julius Malema, to court after they alleged that the appointment of Edward Kieswetter as commissioner of SARS by Manuel was the result of nepotism.[51][52] Following the judgement Manuel stated that he would be donating the R500,000 in damages to victims of the VBS Mutual Bank scandal which the EFF is alleged to have participated in.[53]

Following a string of court case losses for inciting supporters to commit acts of either intimidation (against Karima Brown), land invasion (AfriForum) or of defamation of character (against Trevor Manuel) the party was left with combined court costs amounting to almost R1 million.[54]

CorruptionEdit

An investigation by the amaBhungane centre for investigative journalism stated that the EFF received R500,000 in kickbacks from a company in return for a R1.26 billion contract to manage a fleet of vehicles used by the City of Johannesburg with tacit acquiescence of the Democratic Alliance.[55]

VBS Mutual BankEdit

Following the publication of a South African Reserve Bank report[56] into the collapse of VBS Mutual Bank implicating EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu's brother media reports came out alleging that Shivambu received R10 million in illicit payments from VBS prior to it being placed under curatorship in March 2018.[57][58] Prior to the publication of the Reserve Bank's report the EFF criticised the Reserve Bank for placing VBS under curatorship and accused it of victimising VBS on racial grounds.[59] The EFF stated that it had seen no evidence that Shivambu received the R10 million[60] and called for government to recapitalise VBS Mutual Bank[61] whilst also taking legal action against those mentioned in the Reserve Bank report.[62] A follow up investigation by the Daily Maverick alleged that the EFF illicitly received R1.8 million of VBS money through a network of proxy companies with the party's leadership (notably Shivambu and Malema) also illicitly reviving money though this network.[63] A former member of the EFF's leadership accused the party leadership of accepting donations from VBS Mutual Bank prior to its collapse.[49]

A follow up investigation by the Daily Maverick found that R454,000 of VBS money was used to pay for the 2017 EFF birthday celebration.[64] It also found that a total of R16.1 million was channeled through a Shivambu associated company largely for the benefit of the EFF.[64] Malema later forwarded a theory that the VBS collapse was part of a conspiracy to damage the EFF.[65]

IdeologyEdit

Feminists and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa have criticised the party's militarism and "military command structure".[66][67]

In mid-June 2016 a group calling themselves "Anonymous Africa", claiming to be associated with the hacktivist group Anonymous, perpetrated a DDoS attack on the EFF's website stating the reason for the attack was the party's "nationalist socialist rhetoric".[68] The South African Communist Party also condemns this party.[69]

Violence and bigotryEdit

Vusi Khoza, the party's candidate for Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, has a criminal conviction for his involvement in what was believed to be a xenophobic attack on foreigners at Albert Park, Durban in December 2009.[70]

Feminists have characterised leading members of the party as misogynist.[71][72][73][74]

The EFF is widely criticised for inciting and perpetuating racism.[75][68][76] South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission disqualified an EFF councillor in the 2016 local elections due to racism.[77]

In February, 2016, during violent university protests characterised by arson and vandalism, EFF Youth leader Omphile Seleke posted instructions for making petrol bombs on social media.[78]

In January 2018, EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu congratulated the party supporters for causing damage to various H&M stores[79] across South Africa due to a picture of a young black child wearing a green hoodie reading, "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle".[80][81][82][83][84][85][86][87] A Vodacom store in Polokwane was damaged and looted by EFF members following a presentation by Corruption Watch at the 2018 Vodacom Awards which included an image depicting EFF leaders Malema and Shivambu as "abusers of Democracy".[88][89]

In February 2019, after the SONA address in parliament by the SA President, EFF MP Marshall Dlamini physically assaulted a member of the presidential security team after a disagreement between EFF MPs and the security.[90]

Anti-white prejudiceEdit

Malema stated at a political rally in 2016 that “We are not calling for the slaughter of white people‚ at least for now". When asked for comment by a news agency, the ANC spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa stated that there will be no comment from the ANC, as "[h]e [Malema] was addressing his own party supporters."[91] While still the ANCYL leader, Malema was taken to the Equality Court by AfriForum for repeatedly singing “dubul’ ibhunu”, which translate as “shoot the boer [white farmer]”. The ANC supported Malema, though AfriForum and the ANC reached a settlement before the appeal case was due to be argued in the Supreme Court of Appeal.[citation needed]

Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, stated at a political rally in 2018 that "Go After A White Man... We Are Cutting The Throat Of Whiteness"[92][93] This led to the Democratic Alliance accusing the EFF's leader, Malema, of racism and not sharing the more tolerant views of South Africans broadly.[94] The EFF later stated that the reference to the "throat of whiteness" was a metaphorical reference to destroying white privilege and was not referring or advocating harm to white people.[95]

Anti-Indian prejudiceEdit

The South African Minority Rights Equality Movement initiated a court case against Malema for inciting racial sentiment by stating that a "majority of Indians are racist" at an EFF Youth Day rally in 2018.[96]

The EFF was criticised by the South African Council of Churches, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation,[97] and the ANC[98] for comparing Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to a "dog" whilst protesting the Zondo Commission inquiry into government corruption. The EFF also accused the anti-corruption investigators of being members of an "Indian cabal" commenting on the presence of Indian South African's making up the investigative team.[99][100] The EFF also accused Gordhan and his daughter of corruption.[101] The EFF accusations were proven false[102][103] and Gordhan laid charge of defamation against Malema stating that the EFF's "determined defence of corruption and the corrupt, using personal attacks, racism and alleged hate speech is not acceptable and must be challenged."[104]

Actions against journalists and the mediaEdit

Journalist Ranjeni Munusamy lodged an affidavit in December 2018 detailing threatening remarks, intimidation, harassment and personal attacks made by party members, including Malema, towards her and other journalists[105] targeted by the party. The affidavit was supported by the South African National Editors Forum and other notable South African journalists such as Max du Preez, Pauli VanWyk, Adriaan Jurgens Basson, and Barry Bateman.[105] The EFF denied any involvement in attacks on Munusamy and other journalists.[106]

"We need to ask the IEC how such a party can be on the ballot box. It threatens journalists. It encourages its supporters to make rape threats and sexual assault threats. It wants to dictate what I can do as a journalist."
—Karima Brown[107]

South African political journalist Karima Brown was the target of verbal abuse and threats of violence by EFF supporters following the EFF's publication of her personal contact details. This led charges with the police and Equity Court being laid against the party amidst speculation that this instance might be in breach of South Africa's Electoral Code of Conduct. Parties in breach of the code risk having their registration to run in elections being revoked.[108] Malema stated on the incident that journalists have no privileges whilst accusing Brown of being a state agent and denied that EFF supporters were making threatening remarks.[109] The court found in favour of Brown and ruled that the EFF had contravened the South African electoral code by inciting its supports to harass Brown.[110]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit