The Economic Freedom Fighters gathered before the press in Constitution Hill, Braamfontein on Thursday. Businessman-turned-freedom-fighter Kenny Kunene arrived early to greet and welcome the journalists who were there long before the press conference started. EFF Commander in Chief Julius Malema entered the hall flanked by members of the EFF executive panel and interim provincial leaders. Many in the media were not expecting to see television personality Fana Mokoena wearing a red beret and taking a seat with the people whose struggle is that of “economic freedom in our lifetime”.
Julius Malema began reading the press statement and pointed out that people from all walks of life have heeded the call to be actively involved in the economic struggle as presented by the EFF. This came as no surprise to the leadership that has emerged in the EFF as the organization itself is “inspired by the struggles of the people”. Malema said: “Since the clarion call, thousands of progressive Economic Freedom Fighters, non-governmental organizations, youth, workers, traditional leaders, activists, movements, non-profit organizations, political parties, churches, intellectuals, academics, students, traditional chiefs, headmen and kings, independent councilors, internationalists, and many others have responded to the clarion call and gave definite answers on WHAT IS TO BE DONE?”
Julius Malema went on to explain that at present, the main focus of the EFF is preparing for the NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ON WHAT IS TO BE DONE. The NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ON WHAT IS TO BE DONE will be held in Soweto from 26 to 27 July. Delegations of Economic Freedom Fighters from regions, sub-regions and wards all over the country will attend. The EFF invited progressive organizations including other independent political parties and Economic Freedom Fighters from other African countries to be available at the national assembly.
The values and principles of the EFF have freedom icon Nelson Mandela, written all over them. Human dignity, equality, human rights, non-racialism and non-sexism reign supreme in the EFF. Economic Freedom Fighters strive for a democratic government that is accountable, responsive and open.
The Commander in Chief laid the foundations of the EFF bare so that there can be no confusion about what the organization stands for. The expropriation of the country’s land without compensation and the nationalization of strategic economic sectors top the list. The EFF believe that the abolishment of tenders will deal with corruption decisively. The Economic Freedom Fighters find the issue of poor sanitation which has been highlighted in the Western Cape in recent weeks particularly disturbing and seek to address that as a matter of priority in the organization.
In South Africa, any political organization that sincerely aims to see to the needs of the people must not ignore the unemployment elephant in the room. Over and above protected industrial development, the EFF stands for the introduction of minimum wages. In the statement read by Malema, the EFF elaborated on corruption. He went as far as to say: “Anyone found guilty of corruption will never sit proudly and wear the beret of the Economic Freedom Fighters.”
As for the corruption and fraud charges against Malema and other leaders within the EFF, the national co-ordinator Mpho Ramakatsa responded to a reporter’s question: “South Africans, you should expect more cases against us sitting here. As I’m talking to you, this morning I also received a call that those that are in power in the Free State have opened cases against me. They are still going to open cases and we will give them cooperation in their own investigation.” There have also been reports of possible charges against Kenny Kunene.
Julius Malema heads the Economic Freedom Fighters as the Commander in Chief and National Convenor. Mpho Ramakatsa, former ANC leader in the Free State, is the National Coordinator. The National Central Command Team consists of Floyd Shivambu, Kenny Kunene, Sam Tshabalala, Fana Mokoena and Leigh Ann. The remaining members of the team are Pabane Moteka, Hlayiseka Chawane, Sipho Mbatha, Mandisa Makesini and Hlengiwe Hlophe.
In a short space of time, the Economic Freedom Fighters have garnered Provincial Central Command Teams in all the provinces. Themba Kiro is the Eastern Cape convenor and the coordinator is Pumza Ntobongwana. In the Free State, Sam Matiase is the convenor and Willy Tshabalala is the coordinator. The Gauteng province is represented by Pule Matshitse as the provincial convenor and he is assisted by two coordinators, Parks Khaiyane and Lufuno Gogoro. Reggie Ngcobo holds the position of convenor in KwaZulu-Natal while Nathi Phewu is the coordinator.
In Limpopo, Economic Freedom Fighters Michael Mathebe and George Raphela are convenor and coordinator respectively. Ayanda Tshabalala oversees the activities of the Mpumalanga province and Dumisani Ncongwane is the coordinator. North West Economic Freedom Fighters are led by Alfred Motsi with Papiki Babuile as the coordinator and in the Northern Cape, the convenor is Mbuyiselo Matebus and the coordinator is Adri Noble. To mobilize the Economic Freedom Fighters in the Western Cape, Gcobani Nozongana has been named as the convener and Lephallo Mahoto has been given the role of coordinator.
After reading the statement about the developments in the organization and the headway made by the Economic Freedom Fighters, the leaders took questions from the media. One of those questions was with regards to the comparison between the EFF and other parties formed by those who have left the ranks of the ANC such as COPE. Malema dispelled the comparison and answered that the EFF are unique because none of these aforementioned parties are radically protesting the economic state of the country. Julius Malema told reporters: “We are a protest movement. They are not a protest movement.”
Malema further added that the Economic Freedom Fighters are not bitter and disgruntled over lost positions of power that they once held with the ruling party which is now a “shadow of its former self”. He said that the Economic Freedom Fighters are ordinary citizens of the country who have no desire for power and are only interested in making “economic freedom in our lifetime” a reality.