CLEARING THE DECKS
Julius Malema says expelling former KZN EFF leader Vusi Khoza won’t hurt party’s 2024 chances
Vusi Khoza, the former Economic Freedom Fighters KwaZulu-Natal leader, MP and serial floor-crosser, is one of more than 60 party leaders expelled by the EFF after failing to organise buses for constituents to attend the party’s 10th-anniversary celebrations in July. Khoza, who is appealing against the decision, insists he’ll be back in Parliament, even if he has to find another political home.
On Friday, 20 October, the EFF announced that it had formally expelled its former KwaZulu-Natal leader Vusi Khoza and more than 60 other leaders who had been suspended after they failed to secure buses for their constituents to attend the party’s 10th-anniversary celebrations at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg in July.
Malema had vowed that these leaders would be held accountable for their failure to work diligently for the party, especially towards its much-vaunted birthday bash in Johannesburg.
Khoza is a controversial figure in KwaZulu-Natal politics. He came to prominence as an ANC councillor in the eThekwini Municipality, having won the seat in the inner-city Ward 32, which includes Albert Park.
In February 2009, Khoza was arrested and charged over a xenophobic mob attack in central Durban that left two foreigners dead and another seriously injured.
He faced two charges of murder, one of attempted murder and one of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. Those charges were later withdrawn due to lack of evidence, but Khoza was convicted of public violence and conspiracy to commit common assault. He received a three-year sentence that was suspended for five years.
Read more in Daily Maverick: MPs among 439 EFF members named, shamed and banned from birthday bash for failing to secure buses
Khoza then left the ANC to join the then-newly formed National Freedom Party (NFP) and served as its first provincial secretary. In 2014, Khoza was appointed as the EFF’s KZN convenor, now championing the party’s call for “economic freedom in our lifetime”.
Under his leadership in KZN, the EFF did well in elections and also increased its support among students. In a province that had all but shut out the EFF, the party improved support from less than 2% of the provincial vote in 2014 to close to 10% in 2019. In real terms, it represented an increase of more than 250,000 votes.
Khoza was re-elected as provincial chairperson in 2018, but in 2020, there were reports that some in the EFF wanted to oust him after he appeared to disagree with the leaders elected at the party’s 2019 national conference.
Khoza lost the EFF KZN leadership contest in October 2022 when the slate of former deputy provincial chairperson Mongezi Twala made a clean sweep. Twala was elected chairperson and Thobisile Nkosi as his deputy. This, it now seems, signalled the beginning of the end for Khoza’s time in the EFF.
Khoza served in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature for nine years before he became an MP in the National Assembly in February 2023. He was recalled by the party in August 2023.
He expressed his deep unhappiness when he was recalled. Some party members allegedly accused Khoza of instructing students and other party structures to defy the Malema-led EFF national leadership, something that Khoza has vehemently denied.
Attempts to speak to Khoza were unsuccessful on Monday, as his calls went to voicemail.
However, since the announcement of his expulsion on Friday, Khoza has taken to social media to announce his vow to challenge his removal.
He said the expulsion was unfair because he had tried to raise money for the buses for members to attend the party’s birthday celebrations, but was let down by donors, who had pulled out at the last moment.
“Kusho bona. Bathi [they are saying] I am expelled. But one thing for sure, come 2024 swearing-in ceremony, I will be in that house, on that line with them,” he said on X.
He said he had been given an option of appealing against his expulsion and if that failed, he would find a new political home.
Malema was quoted by News24 on Monday as saying Khoza’s expulsion wouldn’t hurt the party in KZN.
“We have expelled so many people since forming the EFF, so what must we do? Vusi Khoza’s time with the EFF is done, and nothing will happen to the EFF. Why would you be scared you will lose votes because you expelled a person who can’t even bring a bus?” Malema said.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Growing pain(s): Dear EFF, after 10 years of adding fuel to the fire, it’s now time for you to grow up
Xolani Dube, a KZN-based political analyst with the Xubera Research Institute, said even if Khoza successfully appealed against his expulsion, his future in the EFF was limited.
“Some people say Vusi Khoza was the best KZN provincial leader for the EFF because under his leadership the party did very well in the polls. But even after his departure, the party has continued to do well, especially in the educational institutions where the party has been winning student representation elections.
“They say the party will shed support, but I don’t think so. The EFF is branded around Julius Malema, and Vusi Khoza is just a small fish in the pond. The EFF will survive without him,” Dube said.
“I think Vusi Khoza has got a good prospect of appealing for his membership of the EFF restored. But he cannot do anything about his deployment to Parliament, because that is the prerogative of the party and if the party leadership don’t want to deploy him to any position they will not. So he is more likely to thrive in a new political home rather than in the EFF,” Dube said. DM