AFRICANGLOBE – In an interview ahead of the EFF’s second birthday celebrations in Rustenburg on Saturday, Julius Malema tells journalist Janet Smith the party wants to consolidate mass power, topple and humble the ANC and then capture the state.
Janet Smith – Two years ago, when the EFF was formed, you represented the left, a new left. Now there are other viable, competing forces in that arena. What’s the context for you as you get ready to celebrate the party’s birthday on Saturday?
Julius Malema: I think the EFF has managed to establish itself as a leader there, but it has always been readily available to marshal forces on the left. A fragmented left doesn’t stand any chance of winning against the well-organised machine called capital.
That’s why the EFF has tried and tried to extend invites to Numsa so as to consolidate and talk about what could be a formidable force to advance the interests of the working class.
JS: What’s preventing this from happening? Last week, associates of the broader coalition that falls under the United Front banner were talking about “lumpenism”, describing this as when workers are used to advance the narrow political objectives of individuals. The suggestion was that the EFF (and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, Amcu) are doing that; that you are counter-revolutionary forces.
This is an issue which your supporters may grapple with as that coalition, under the banner Unite Against Corruption, prepares for its anti-corruption march in Tshwane and Cape Town next month.
JM: They must characterise what constitutes the lumpen proletariat because, from the EFF’s policy point of view, there’s nothing counter-revolutionary about that. We’ve outlined clearly how we seek to achieve socialism and even the individual leadership of the EFF has always demonstrated its political will to achieve the objections of socialism, so there shouldn’t be this temptation to label potential allies and potential friends.
We are not just theorising about the politics of the left. We are actualising it. We’re doing something. The issues of the farmworkers, the miners, we’re raising their plight every day. We are working on their genuine demands.
The EFF has got no problem with any programme that supports anti-corruption and if (former Cosatu leader Zwelinzima) Vavi has taken such a lead, he deserves the support of all of us. Corruption is a daily struggle… fighting it in the streets, in the councils, in Parliament. But I don’t think the march will achieve much.
The march we should be having is one to remove President (Jacob) Zuma because, for as long as we have Zuma as a president, you must forget about anti-corruption. The president protects it. As long as it favours them, they promote it. They turn a blind eye.
So the march is necessary. We promote it, but we need bigger than that.
The United Front has been talking for a long time. It must go and launch branches. It’s not as easy as they want to project it.
JS: Other forces are being marshalled against the EFF with increasing enthusiasm and even aggression in what some would say are acts of political intolerance. We’ve heard from the ANCYL that it plans to take to the streets of Durban to declare KwaZulu-Natal a no-go zone for the EFF. Your members were attacked at a community meeting in Hebron this week by a group calling itself the ANC Concerned Youth Group.
But you’ve warned that there is nothing anyone can do to stop “the sweeping winds of the red revolution”, and this is a situation you’ve had to get used to over the past two years.
Now, as parties prepare for local government elections next year, you could be facing months of a more intense fight against those galvanising against you.
What is simmering underneath this? Are you part of a group within and outside the ANC working on getting Zuma recalled?
JM: We’re working very hard to build an organisation to consolidate mass power and then capture state power. The rest are waffling, calling press conference after press conference. They’re not on the ground.
Take Rustenburg, where we are this week preparing for our birthday. How did we get 21 percent here in the elections? We didn’t even mount a serious campaign. We got 21 percent without experienced volunteers, party agents, no campaigners on the ground, no branches.
Now, we’ve got branches in every ward. We’ve got the region established.
I said to Mmusi Maimane (the leader of the DA), let’s stop concentrating on each other as opposition. We’ve got a big elephant in the room.
Let’s bring down the ANC, and once we have dealt with its arrogance significantly, then we can all talk as equal partners.
It will be good for our democracy where there is no one with an outright majority. You’d humble yourself. You would want to serve because you will know that the people can remove you from power.
I’m not about to exchange with the ANCYL, with the SACP. I’ve left those things to Mbuyiseni (Ndlozi, EFF MP). I go mad with organisational work that is not done properly. That’s what I’m doing now. We want to topple the ANC through democratic means. I can see it happening. It can be done.
I’m not in the business of removing Zuma. That’s the ANC’s work. Let them do it. It’s their own mess. Zuma being there actually helps us, the opposition, to gather more support on the ground because he is the weakest link.
That Cyril Ramaphosa has got the potential to attract some middle class and undermine the DA support base, but I don’t want that. I don’t want the ANC to increase its vote anywhere. Let the DA increase. Let the UDM increase. I love anyone who’ll vote for the opposition so we can reduce the ANC’s percentage. By doing so, the ordinary people will be respected.
JS: Port Elizabeth, in particular, is going to be a battleground next year because the ANC itself is not united there but insists it can retain the metro. You’ve spoken about taking control also through coalitions, using that city as an example.
JM: We are prepared to work with anyone as long as it deals with ANC arrogance. It has to be punished for being more interested in their families and friends and neglecting the masses. All we’re saying is, let’s have all of us on the same level. What do you have to offer our people? Depending on that, we can all work together.
The ANC says the voters of the ANC don’t care about Nkandla. What will teach them a lesson is when you start voting against them.
JS: You’ve been aligned with (Zimbabwean leader) Robert Mugabe many times, but where do you find yourselves ideologically, two years later? Are you still emulating the legendary Burkina Faso leader, Thomas Sankara, who had powerful views on neo-colonialism?
JM: More than Sankara, more than Mugabe, we are inspired by the Cuban Revolution, Fidel and Che. Now they’ve even succeeded in humbling the Americans, without changing their fundamental policies.
I’m not worried about being compared with Mugabe, but you can be guaranteed that I will never go and repossess land owned by fellow white South Africans in a violent manner. I’m happy Zimbabweans have taken the land, but I disagree with the method. We must use democratic means, consensus, legislation, people taking part in the redistribution. Those who say we want to do this Mugabe-style are vulgarising our policies.
We launched the EFF on July 26 because that was when Castro overthrew the Batista regime. But he always told his people never to burn the American flag because it’s not a reflection of the leadership, but of American people. That was very profound.
JS: You’ve said you would be happy to just be on the ground, but the political experience of being in Parliament must have grown the EFF’s leadership.
JM: It’s boring… that thing of Parliament and, to be honest, it plays a very minimal role in changing the lives of our people on a practical level. We pass laws but you rely on another arm of the state, the executive, to implement those laws.
But Parliament is a good terrain to fight from, and it gives us huge experience for if we become government.
The thing I’ve enjoyed the most has been the judicial committee aspect. Last week, we interviewed the judges under the Judicial Service Commission. It’s very good because it’s not partisan. It’s not majority rule. We listen to each other and people can gradually change their views through persuasion. I wish Parliament was in the spirit of that. Members get heated, but when we move to the next subject, we’re brothers and sisters. And why? Because we love South Africa.
JS: We’ve seen others rise in the vanguard of the EFF, especially in Parliament. Strong examples would be MPs Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Godrich Gardee. Illustrious writer Zakes Mda recently paid the leadership of the EFF a compliment about its academic achievements. You’re all graduates, some with Master’s degrees and PhDs.
JM: Remember when we started, we didn’t know each other. We just met, so we had to learn to appreciate each other through support and the transfer of skills so we could complement each other. Now there are faces other than Malema which people know and have confidence in. The EFF is spoilt for leadership choice.
We’re celebrating the life of a party that’s in full swing, and even the death of Julius Malema cannot stop that.
By: Janet Smith