Julius Malema, the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), launched the party’s election manifesto yesterday, which exploits the poor with empty promises. It is a mockery to promise free electricity, water, education, houses, and land to supporters when the EFF is positioned in the highest office of the country. The crowds applauded the EFF leader for offering free basic services and more while forgetting the taste of the lavish lifestyle Malema lives. Millions will continue to live in poverty as usual.
People were excited that the EFF filled up the Orlando Stadium as if the party had won the elections, forgetting that it is the votes that ultimately count. Young people who have not yet reached the voting age were among the crowds, together with buses from as far as Zimbabwe. There were three buses from Botswana carrying people to the stadium to support the EFF launch. Thousands of Zimbabweans attended the event, all without South African identity documents and not eligible to vote in the elections. The EFF claims to have filled the entire stadium with South African voters supporting the party.
Malema and the EFF comrades effectively used the devastating Marikana massacre to expand the support base beyond the youth and working class. The EFF captured the imagination of black South Africans by attacking the weaknesses of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, calling out the failure of growing the economy, the exclusion of black people from benefiting from participating successfully, and structural transformation failures during the ANC rule; all leaving a vast majority in poverty.
The failed education system and lack of resources for the understaffed and underfunded schools are forcing parents to pay for education. Malema spoke about the millions of poor people who are compelled to live in townships and squatter camps without working infrastructure. The oppressed people who, under apartheid, suffered and continued to suffer while the ANC leaders become instant billionaires. Malema went on to complain about the living wage paid to mine workers and the exploitation of shareholding and board positions by mining corporations. It is a scam to cheapen mine labor and increase profits for foreign shareholders and the ANC, said the EFF leader.
The biggest applause Malema received was when the land reform and the failure of the ANC to address these problems was questioned. The EFF leader questioned the grabbing of land by foreign mining corporations and challenged the greed of Chinese, Australian and Canadian companies. The nationalization of mines and taking white-owned land to give to black people are policies similar to what Robert Mugabe did in Zimbabwe. These policies will drive out foreign investment and doom South Africa forever.
The EFF did not talk about how the colored population will be included in the plans to move South Africa forward. It was all talk about black empowerment and no equal empowerment for all South Africans. The vision Malema has for South Africa is to remove the rainbow nation and transform the country into black supremacy. Technically, colored people are classified as blacks, but do not receive the same treatment. Coloreds, Indians and White South Africans are last on the list when it comes to employment. While there is favoritism among different ethnic groups, there will always be conflict.
The EFF is too radical and the ideas the party want to implement will only divide South Africa as a nation. Yes, South Africa needs a new leader who will keep the people of all races united. The EFF manifesto rally was more of a personal vendetta against the ANC. In reality, the EFF have not promised South Africans a better future.
Opinion by Laura Oneale
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