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It’s my party and you’ll cry if I want you — Malema’s stranglehold on EFF bodes ill for its future

It’s my party and you’ll cry if I want you — Malema’s stranglehold on EFF bodes ill for its future
Julius Sello Malema during the Economic Freedom Fighters’ 10th Anniversary celebrations at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on 29 July 2023. (Photo: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu)

The decision by the EFF’s Central Command Team to fire 210 of its public representatives shines a spotlight on the party’s internal dynamics. Its leader, Julius Malema, is often seen as the only reason for its existence. But if the party is to survive beyond him, what is happening below its top leadership and how Malema handles that is crucial.

The weekend before last, Julius Malema confirmed that the EFF’s Central Command Team had decided to remove 210 of its public representatives because of their failure to provide a required number of buses and supporters for the party’s 10th-anniversary celebrations in Johannesburg last month.

The EFF says it currently has 1,170 public representatives: 53 MPs, 50 members of provincial legislatures and 1,067 councillors. Removing 210 of them means roughly one-sixth of the party’s public representatives will now change.

It’s a move that presents the EFF with a number of risks. It will lead to disruptions, as new representatives will have to be chosen to replace those axed. The fired representatives may have their own constituencies in the party who are likely to feel that their voice in electing leaders is being ignored.

Additionally, those who now have nothing to lose are likely to be emboldened to speak out about whatever their frustrations with the party and its leadership may be.

Already one MP, Vusi Khoza, has said publicly that the only reason he was losing his status, and the job, was because he represented a poor area that did not have the resources to supply buses.

It’s not the first time disgruntled former members have spoken out against the party leadership.

A senior EFF leader who was removed from his position responded by saying publicly that Malema and EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu had admitted to taking money from the VBS bank.

And in an astonishing case two years ago, a former Central Command Team (CCT) member, Thembinkosi Rawula, posted on Facebook that Malema and Shivambu had said in a CCT meeting that sometimes “you have to kiss dogs or the devil to get money” for the party.

When Malema sued him for defamation, the Supreme Court of Appeal rejected his application. Astonishingly, Rawula did not have money for legal representation and yet still won his case against the top advocate representing Malema, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi.

Corruption Sans Frontières: Supreme Court of Appeal teaches Malema an important lesson about lying & corruption

‘Do as I say or you’re out’

Malema’s current actions open the door for internal criticisms to become public, making it harder for the leader to control the narrative.

At the same time, the decision to remove so many public representatives in one fell swoop reveals a major problem in the EFF — the huge turnover in caucuses is never a good thing for any party. 

As Gareth van Onselen pointed out back in 2019, 61% of the party’s MPs did not finish their five-year term in Parliament. While that could be explained as the birth pains of a new party, for something similar to happen again suggests a pattern of, “Do as I say or you’re out”.

This gets to the heart of the identity of the EFF — is it a party simply based on the identity and public comments of Malema, or can it outlast his leadership?

No one has ever stood against him for the position of EFF leader, which prompted Justice Minister Ronald Lamola to claim Malema was trying to “replace the institutions with a personality cult, such as the supreme leader of the EFF where only one person thinks, speaks and acts on behalf of the entire organisation”.

Malema himself appears to confirm this.

Speaking at the banquet ahead of the EFF’s tenth-anniversary celebrations this year, he told guests (including the deputy head of the SAPS Police Crime Intelligence Unit, Major-General Feroz Khan), “I am very ruthless against such people who organise things against me, so never try that with me…”

This suggests that Malema will not allow anyone to democratically contest against him in the EFF. For those who believe in hubris, it would suggest that he could, one day, cause the death of the party he started.

However, there are other parts of the picture.

Through working agreements with the ANC in big metros like Joburg and Ekurhuleni, EFF councillors now hold important positions which give them a much higher public profile and could lead to voters recognising EFF members outside of the top leadership.

Two examples stand out.

The first is the EFF’s Gauteng leader, Nkululeko Dunga. In his position as the member of the mayoral committee for finance in Ekurhuleni, Dunga regularly comments in the broadcast media about governance issues in that metro.

The second is the MMC for public safety in Joburg, Mgcini Tshwaku. He has spoken in public about the Joburg gas explosion and the violence surrounding illegal mining in that city. The holder of a PhD in Chemical Engineering, Tshwaku gives the impression he is able to fight for the rights of Joburg residents.

This suggests that the EFF is gathering important experience in governance.

The question is: Will Malema allow others in the party to shine in the public spotlight? He is the only person with the power to ensure that the EFF builds a strong cadre of people who could lead it in the future and it is entirely up to him whether the EFF survives beyond him. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • mongetane says:

    Cult movement 🤫

  • Iam Fedup says:

    And these contemptuous idiots are the ANC’s partners in the local governments that have failed? Perhaps they are just a reflection of what the ANC is really like, or aspires to be. And yet the electorate sees fit to still cast their vote for them.

    • Glyn Morgan says:

      The South African electorate are not stupid! Just very, very ignorant.

      DM and N24 should start a free news service open to all. Let the adverts pay.

      • Iam Fedup says:

        Couldn’t agree more, Glyn. But it needs a full attack in all media, including social media, and texting/messaging services. Of course, word of mouth communication is also critical, and this is why lots and lots of stories need to be told by opposition parties, rather than empty slogans and platitudes.

  • Miles Japhet says:

    Interesting that a man with a degree in Chemical Engineering would be happy to be in a party that has no workable policy. Maybe he, and others like him, are simply after power and money like Julius.
    Despicable people.

    • Mario de Abreu says:

      Miles, I once worked with a female who also held a degree in Chemical Engineering. She could hardly read or write. It’s common knowledge that these degrees are exchanged for money or sexual favours. A Chemical Engineering degree is one of the most difficult to obtain (legally)

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    One would hope for the Icharus effect to put an end to Malema, but it doesn’t work when all you do is plumb the depths of political depravity. He’s got more chance of being skewered on the devil’s fork than flying close to the sun

  • Denise Smit says:

    Malema is imaging himself on the North Korean leader. He even wears his black outfit. He is as ruthless and cruel as Yom Kim and will go to any lengths to get power. The difference is South Africa has a democracy and working judiciary and free media and everything will hopefully be exposed if the brave at DM continues to expose his fascist manner. His party is not separate party it is the junior league of the ANC. It is only optics. He will be taken up by the ANC and become the next President of the ANC and the country unfortunately. Denise Smit

    • Wayne Ashbury Ashbury says:

      I shudder

    • Thulani Dhlamini says:

      Dream on, and hope fully you survive the chest pains because Malema has only one destination before we let him go, us the ground forces to vote for his. He has an appointment with the number 1 seat at the Union Building….that it his generational mission, that we the masses have set for him. No amount of DM smear campaigns will save you from your chest pains. Xhem

      • John Kannemeyer says:

        I think it is you who are dreaming, he will destroy everything you and your children would strive for. He helped destroy the only Black-owned and run Bank in SA..VBS.

      • Hermann Funk says:

        Ha, ha, ha, dream on. Little Idi Amin hasn’t got a chance.

      • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

        The sad thing for you and “the masses” is that you focus in the wrong place. You think the issue is about race when in fact it is about a failing economy.

        And it needs skills to fix, not a man in a red beret who says what you want to hear, so that he benefits.

        I will make a statement, remember it in the future:

        Should Julius Malema get into power, your life, and your family’s will not improve – it will continue to get worse.

        If you are honest and you really want your life to improve, vote for a truly non-racial party that is not about individuals but about the rule of law, education, and services for all. Vote DA.

  • Jon Quirk says:

    I believe that from now on in, he who cannot be named, is changing his name by deed poll, to Goebbels.

  • Heinrich Heiriss says:

    “Malema’s stranglehold on EFF bodes ill for its future” – actually it bodes well. It means the whole thing will collapse when he is eventually removed or leaves. There are words to describe “movements” like this, but I don’t know if they’re appropriate for the comments section.

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    I believe Malema is the EFF’s main liability.
    Why would a party that offers the usual national socialist solutions to the uneducated masses only get 10-12% of the vote. Because his violent antics and big mouth are not attractive to them.

  • Graeme J says:

    What an extraordinary display of narcissism.

  • Thulani Dhlamini says:

    My apologies in advance but your article is utter rubbish based on hearsay and conspiracy theories let alone selective journalism. For starters, quote the whole statement commissar Khoza published. Also quote him when he says “i agree with the decision because it’s a decision we took as a collective”. Further, being from a poor ward has nothing with failing to bring the required buses. It is for the very same reason of poor branches that the public reps were required to procure buses from their pockets. No amount of stratcom strategies to saw decisions within the EFF will sustain. You can try, but the ground forces will defeat your weak smear campaign.

    • John Smythe says:

      Ground forces? Hahaha!!

    • Gretha Erasmus says:

      As a strong EFF supporter, and clearly educated, please explain to me why educated people vote for the EFF, whose nationalisation Marxist policies have been tried and tested in many many counties over 150 years and without fail every one of those countries have made life worse for their citizens. Please just show me ONE country, where the EFFs policies have worked. Maybe there is some utopia hidden behind an invisible screen like Wakanda, where these nationalisation policies worked, but I don’t know of a single one. Please tell me which country made a success of these policies. Because they have been tried and tried and tried in many countries, in many ways, because they sound so good to the masses. But they always leave the entire country poorer and worse off, except of course 5he political elite which I assume you plan to be one of. So maybe the you don’t care that everyone else will become worse off.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      You need to calm down and think, really think.

      How will a very rich thief in a red beret running the country benefit you?

      – Will it bring you clean water?
      – Will it educate the people?
      – Will it power your home and business?
      – Will it keep you safe in your home?

      The answer is: No, it won’t, it will just make him richer.

      So my recommendation to you is look at the things that are really important for survival in this world, and vote for the party (not person) most likely to provide them.

  • William Kelly says:

    Ultimately for a 10 year old party what has Malema actually achieved? Some noise, much chaos, some hot air words and that’s about it. Actual action? Actual policy? They have none of that, save to organise busses for their parties, and even that they can’t get right and have to fire 20% of their own ‘leadership’. It’s hilarious.

  • Confucious Says says:

    It’s only stranglehold should be on it’s own neck!!

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Ever Futile Flops,commisar Gucci and his flamboyant red outfit flops.10 % of the vote but they carry on as if they are relevant,ha ha ha

  • jcdville stormers says:

    The commisar is up for animal cruelty,who gonna pay (some cigarette smuggler?)

  • Peter Holmes says:

    Getting rid of those in your own party who have fallen into disfavour with the leader is, of course, a purge. Hitler (night of the long knives against his own Brownshirts) and Stalin (anyone whom he even suspected of crossing him) both purged their parties by killing those in disfavour. At least the EFF (read, Malema) simply removes then from office. I wonder if he would become an Idi Amin or a Kim Jong Un if he were more than simply a wanna be dictator?

  • John Smythe says:

    The German fascist Nazi party ceased to exist when Hitler took the easy way out after killing 40 million people. Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party ceased to exist when he was captured while trying to escape to Switzerland, shot and hung upside down at a petrol station where people spat on his body. So, there’s still hope.

  • Or “do as I say or you’re” dead?

  • Garth Kruger says:

    The Pol Pot of Polokwane.

  • Alan Paterson says:

    We all know (at least those who can actually think) that Malema has always been, and will always be, a one man band What the EFF thinks is solely what Julius thinks. Or what he doesn’t do, his list of broken promises and flip flops increase annually. Without Julius the EFF will disappear without trace, or become as irrelevant as vaguely irritating minnows like ATM, UDM, etc.

  • Bob Kuhn says:

    Cults of personality don’t end well…..for the idolized and their moronic followers!

  • Gordon Bentley says:

    Good informative report, Stephen – Food for thought.


    He will never step down or aside as leader. He will hang around until his followers splinter off into new parties and he is left alone with barely 1% of the vote in general elections. The EFF grew fast but peaked too fast, it has hit the voter base ceiling and the star the shines twice as bright lives just half as long. EFF in election 2029 or 2034… barely hanging on.

  • Graeme de Villiers says:

    Rent-a-cop muppets

  • Thulani Dhlamini says:

    A disappointing article from a used-to-be reputable journalist. Even for you Stephen i repeat, ‘you and your ilk, can try as much as you like to divide the EFF by such lame articles. But we the ground forces, the EFF and the CiC are hear to stay.

    If you were in the EFF, you’d know that Commissar Dunga has always been in the lime light and greatly admired by the CiC. In fact, Malema paved the way for Dunga to move to the Provincial Chairpersonship form being the Regional Chair.

    We the people who support the EFF love Malema and will carry him in our shoulders to the Union Building, no amount of stratcom journalism will sway us.

    You’ve never written anything like this about the FF+ sole leader and proprietor, Pieter Mulder??? He has been the sole leader of FF+ since exception. Yet you have nothing bad to say about that. Simply because he is white, a former apartheid clandestine operator who killed freedom fighters beyond our borders, and a representative of the minority voice.

    That’s racist, and a very low for you Stephen. Used to hold you in high regard, but this gutter journalism has just exposed you. Henceforth, i read your articles with a pinch of salt and will seek to poke holes in it and expose any disguised racial connotations.

    Disappointed at Stephen

    • Hermann Funk says:

      All your responses are full of stereotypes, cliches and admiration for an individual who is nothing but a loud-mouthed bragger who needs to grow up.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      Racism and rhetoric – I just find this so depressing, for you and the ones you love sbuyanitp9.

      Because with your thinking you will take them all down with you.

    • Karen Spangler says:

      Racist you say? Malema is the poster boy for racism. The only thing more important to him than his hatred of whites is lining his pockets with everything he can. He doesn’t care about anything or anyone other than himself. Power, greed, narcissistic personality. He will step on ANYBODY to get what he wants.

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