A day after two court judgments went against the party, the EFF embarked on its manifesto consultation assemblies at the Uncle Tom’s Community Centre in Orlando, Soweto. The event drew hundreds of EFF members, mostly grannies clad in the party’s red T-shirts.
“This is an event for grannies and grandpas,” an MC said early on as she begged the ushers to bring the old women anything to eat or drink to stop them from fainting from heat and hunger.
The assemblies are part of the EFF’s groundwork ahead of the 2019 national elections. The elections come at a time when several top parties, including the ANC, are embroiled in internal strife defined by factional battles, scandals and corruption.
The EFF is no exception. The party has been mired in corruption in connection with the VBS bank scandal, and is embroiled in a turf war with State Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan. It is amid all this that the party hopes to maintain its current membership and woo new members into its fold.
At Thursday’s event senior citizens said if the party cares for them, they should immediately address issues relating to home security.
The elderly said they were being evicted and tormented by family members in their own homes. The gogos said there were far too many family fights for home ownership.
“I just want to fall and die. I have suffered enough at the hands of my sister-in-law. Since my brother died last year she has been torturing me and often beats me up. I haven’t eaten in days because when I buy food with my pension money; they break into my shack and steal everything.
“I have reported her to the police, but when they come they speak to her like they are speaking to one of their friends. They then tell me to pay for water, which I guess she normally accuses me of, but nobody pays for water at our place,” Nora Magalimele from Orlando said, in tears.
Magalimele said her sister-in-law and her children forced her out of her bigger shack and gave her a small one which lets in water when it rains. The 70-year-old from Orlando Gardens said she stumbles in the dark when she goes into her shack at night because she does not have candles.
“The EFF manifesto works, that is why as pensioners we are here. The EFF takes care of us in our ward, ward 53 in Doornkop. The EFF is always there when we call upon them for assistance. Despite the party’s good intentions their efforts to effectively assist us are frustrated by the local ANC councillor,” Alina Galane, 65, said.
Galane is an active soccer player who is part of a team called Grannies’ Lovers.
“We came to represent what we think works, what we think will take us forward. The EFF is the only party that can take us forward,” added Galane.
“In the EFF manifesto the one thing that I would like to see implemented is the death penalty. People are killed left, right and centre and suspects are released. We need drastic action to end the scourge of random murders in our country and that is the death penalty. Bring back the death penalty,” Faith Magome, 53, said.
“I like the existing party’s manifesto and do not think that the stuff that didn’t work should be done away with. Instead more time should be dedicated to the things that didn’t work,” she said.
“Tell them about the abuse we face. Why don’t they double the R1,700 grant? They should give us double the amount in December. We have grandchildren. We are abused by these grandchildren in our own houses. I stay in a garage because my sister’s child has taken over the house,” said Peggy Mavimbela of ward 38, Dube.
Another woman, who gave her name as MaNkosi, 66, from Naledi said: “We are fighting one another because of our parents houses here in Soweto. Men are fighting women, children are fighting their parents. My mother’s house was taken over by our stepmother. Houses are taken away fraudulently.
“Men leave us in the house for years and return with empty pockets. He knows we marry in community of property and will share the proceeds from selling the house. EFF, help us please.”
Thokozile Kunene, 51, expressed her disgust at the Bheki Mlangeni District Hospital in Jabulani, Soweto. Kunene was bitten by a dog and taken to the hospital where she said she was not attended to for four hours.
Kunene was eventually transferred to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital where she underwent an operation at 9pm — eight hours later.
“My hand is paralysed. The Bheki Mlangeni must be closed. Patients who go to the hospital never return,” Kunene said.
Addressing the crowd, EFF Gauteng provincial secretary Moshe Koma promised the elderly that the party would get addicts off the streets and implement measures to prevent grannies’ houses from being forcefully taken from them.
“On the occasion of the manifesto we are drafting our lives,” Koma said.
EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi assured the elderly that she would take up all the issues and raise them with the party leadership.
“You are battling the MEC, you are battling the ANC, you are battling your own children, and the EFF is here to help. You have said you are tired of voting for the ANC, don’t make the mistake you did in 2016. We have recorded all your issues. We have acknowledged that most of your issues concern evictions from your houses. Get to the EFF headquarters, the EFF has a lawyer who will assist you for free.”
Mkhaliphi said when the party drafted its manifesto they would ensure that their issues were addressed. She said if they voted for the EFF their pensions would be doubled.
“We need your support. We need your trust. We have proven to you that we can be trusted. You sent us to remove Zuma and we did so.
“We will take the land and hand it over to black poor people. If you vote for us we will ensure that your dignity is restored,” Mkhaliphi said. DM
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