The Economic Freedom Fighters held a rally in Sebokeng, outside Johannesburg on Saturday. The rally was an interactive session between the leadership of the EFF and the residents of Sebokeng. The EFF wanted to hear from the people about their concerns and struggles. Members of the community got the opportunity to speak directly to EFF leaders about unemployment, service delivery, corruption and drug abuse issues.
Relating to unemployment, a resident told the leaders in red berets that not everyone who is unemployed in Sebokeng is uneducated. There are many people sitting at home with qualifications which can be instrumental in social development but even those people could not find jobs. Another resident spoke about how unemployment among young people was the root cause of the drug problem. ‘Nyaope’ is the drug of choice among youth in the area.
‘Nyaope’ is a drug whose components include anti-retroviral medication, marijuana and a host of other household products which have an intoxicating effect if combined. A former member of COPE wondered if the EFF would not be like other political organizations that “come to Sebokeng, make people stand in sun, feed them empty promises and never return”. One resident raised the question of corruption.
Mpho Ramakatsa addressed the crowd. Ramakatsa is another EFF leader who was formerly with the ANC and now faces charges of fraud and corruption. He told reporters on Thursday that no member of the EFF had been found guilty of corruption however; the public should expect many such cases against him, Julius Malema and other EFF leaders. That is a challenge that the EFF is expecting and willing to face.
Patrick Sindane is the Gauteng regional spokesperson for the EFF. His roots are in Sebokeng and he is familiar with the struggles of the people in that area. “I know many of you and some of you know me.” This is the type of leadership that the EFF says it wants to embrace. The EFF emphasizes that it wants the type of government where leaders in the community know their people, struggle with the people and work together with the people to find solutions. The EFF insists that this is the nature of the “struggle for economic freedom in our lifetime”.
The crowd broke out into song and loud cheers when it was Julius Malema’s turn to speak. He said that the problem with the ruling party was that leaders distance themselves from the people once they are voted into power. The EFF is made up of radical leaders who will join their followers in protest. Malema said that when there are riots and people ‘toyi-toyi’, leaders should not be in offices far away from the commotion. Leaders should be in the crowd when bullets are fired and teargas is thrown at protesters.
Julius Malema took on a biblical approach when talking about the ANC which he says belongs to President Jacob Zuma these days and should be called Zuma African National Congress. Four years ago, President Zuma said that the ANC would rule until Jesus comes back. At the Sebokeng rally, Malema said: “They said they were going to rule until Jesus comes back. What kind of a statement is that?”
The Commander in Chief of the EFF, Julius Malema, warned: “So, Jesus has come back, they must go out. They are not the Alpha and Omega.” The people are the “Alpha and Omega” and the people have the power to “take over this government”.
Julius Malema reiterated the call for land expropriation without compensation which was met with agreement from those in attendance. He spoke in detail about poor health services saying that after 20 years, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital should at least be in a position to offer quality treatment to esteemed individuals like Nelson Mandela as well as ordinary people.
Malema has always said that the Economic Freedom Fighters want a government that will bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. The EFF have their work cut out for them ahead of next year’s elections. Malema dismissed the speculation that Tokyo Sexwale who was recently sacked as the Human Settlements Minister in the latest cabinet reshuffle by President Zuma would be joining EFF. Malema explained that the EFF was not looking for big names who are out of touch with the people. The EFF is eager to team up with ordinary citizens who are willing to do the hard work of servicing their communities. The EFF is currently preparing for its NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ON WHAT IS TO BE DONE which will be held in Soweto from 26 – 27 July.