“I will be the first to take it,” EFF leader Julius Malema told a virtual press conference on Thursday, in reference to the Covid-19 vaccine.
Malema hit out at “unscientific” and “illogical” theories currently spreading in South Africa. Among them, the idea that the Covid-19 vaccine is a population control mechanism aimed at wiping out Africans.
Malema expressed disbelief at the traction this lie had gained locally, pointing out that the majority of the South African population consumes Western medicine without falling victim to it.
“If these Western people wanted to depopulate us, they would have finished us by now,” the EFF leader said.
“We are eating the same medicine white people eat.”
While he spoke, many EFF supporters on the party’s Facebook page expressed disappointment at his stance. They had assumed Malema would oppose the vaccine on the grounds that it did not originate in Africa.
But Malema was unyielding, describing EFF leaders and members as “Marxists and materialists who believe in science”.
The EFF leader said: “We will never win this battle if we make medicine our enemy.”
These were Malema’s first public comments for 2021, and he seemed in an unusually restrained mood. Paying tribute to those who had lost their lives to Covid-19, he called on his party workers and supporters to adhere to Covid-19 regulations and announced that the EFF would suspend all political activity until the second wave of the pandemic had passed.
Malema repeated a call that the party has previously made: that due to disruptions caused by the pandemic, the local government elections scheduled for this year should be postponed and combined with the 2024 general elections.
If not, he said, the municipal elections had the ability to become a “super-spreader event”.
The polls are currently slated to be held between August and November. The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) made it clear in 2020 that it believed these elections should go ahead as planned.
IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo said in September 2020 that combining the two sets of elections would require “a long policy discussion” and perhaps even a public referendum. Mamabolo said he did not envisage it taking place before 2021’s scheduled polls.
One of the objections to postponing the 2021 elections has been that it would mean municipal officials would have to remain in their posts for another four years – a notion unlikely to pass constitutional muster.
Malema confirmed on Thursday he was aware that a postponement would mean the political “status quo remains until 2024”.
Asked what this would mean for the citizens of contested councils like Johannesburg and Tshwane, Malema replied: “That situation was created by the people of those municipalities.”
He added that the EFF would be meeting with other political parties in the hope of reaching consensus on this matter.
The EFF leader also used his platform to criticise the government for having closed the country’s land borders as part of the current Level 3 lockdown. Malema accused the government of irrationality for keeping provincial borders and airports open.
“It is white people who brought corona here,” said Malema, reminding his audience that the first cases of the coronavirus in South Africa originated not in SADC nations, but came from Italy.
For South Africans who argue that borders should be kept closed to preserve resources and employment for locals, Malema had one question:
“The borders are closed. Are you employed now?” DM
"Tactics mean doing what you can with what you have." ~ Saul Alinsky