Former ANC youth league leader Julius Malema has launched a new party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). He says we have political freedom, but it’s not enough without economic freedom too.
Malema was expelled from the ANC after being convicted for singing the apartheid era resistance song “Shoot the Boers”. Malema has led marches highlighting the plight of unemployed youth.
The new party held its first national conference at the end of July and aims to stand in elections next year.
Supporters rallied wearing the party’s distinctive red berets. It’s set to officially launch on Saturday of this week, the day after the anniversary of the Marikana massacre.
Malema was quick to support the fight by the miners at Marikana. For this he has certainly not been forgotten by workers in the platinum belt.
He said at the congress, “We will not rest until we have proper houses, quality education, efficient health facilities, proper toilets, water and electricity. We cannot say we are free while the economy is in the hands of a minority of white people.”
EFF has announced its basic principles, including redistribution of land and nationalisation of mines—both without compensation.
These demands will ring a bell for a sizeable minority who are dissatisfied with the incumbent government, but cannot bear to vote for the official opposition.
But its Achilles heel is the method for winning this new future.
EFF leaders argue correctly that strikes and protests are likely to increase. But they predict that these actions will worsen the economic crisis.
They conclude that no “generalised uprising” will unseat the government so it is important for them to stand in election.
But it is strikes and service delivery protests that are the path to unseating the government’s neoliberal programme.
The EFF highlights white ownership of the economy rather than control of the economy. But we need to go further, past elite black ownership to real control by the black working class and its poor relatives.