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Fact-Check — did the ANC stage a fake event for EFF supporters ‘rejoining’ the ruling party?

Fact-Check — did the ANC stage a fake event for EFF supporters ‘rejoining’ the ruling party?
On Sunday 10 October, the ANC tweeted that its branch on the West Rand was welcoming home former EFF members. (Photograph: @FikileMbalula)

Were these real EFF members turning their back on the Freedom Fighters in favour of the ANC, or were they an ANC rent-a-crowd? We look at both sides of the argument.

On Sunday 10 October, the ANC tweeted with great enthusiasm that its branch on the West Rand was welcoming home former EFF members who were returning to the ANC. 

It posted a number of photos showing probably about 50 people in a hall wearing EFF T-shirts getting ready to symbolically swap those for ANC T-shirts.

This is the kind of political theatre that happens a lot in South Africa, where T-shirts advertising your political affiliation have played an important role in activism and politics. So it’s absolutely not unprecedented or impossible that this sort of event should occur, and it was duly covered by media outlets including the SABC and EWN.

Just one problem: The EWN journalist on duty happened to notice, and film, a white BMW arriving at the event venue to drop off EFF T-shirts for the supposed EFF members who were defecting to the ANC. In the video it is quite clear that these people are receiving the T-shirts and putting them on on the spot. 

As a result, the SABC had to edit its content to clarify that these were “alleged” EFF members.

So, what happened here? Were these real EFF members turning their back on the Freedom Fighters in favour of the ANC, or were they an ANC rent-a-crowd?

Well, even the EFF acknowledges that there was at least one former EFF official among them – a former EFF councillor from Ward 20 in Merafong who was fired for failing to provide transport for his constituency to attend the EFF’s 10th anniversary celebration. The EFF famously said it would recall no fewer than 2010 public representatives for the same offence.

However, the EFF said ahead of the ANC event that there were no other members of the EFF in the ward in question who had announced an intention to leave.

On the other side of the argument, ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said a day after the event that the supposed EFF members didn’t have T-shirts because they already “burned them down”. He said the T-shirt ceremony was symbolic and that criticisms of the event were “exaggerated and vulgarised”.

Who are we going to believe here? 

Well, neither party has an unblemished record when it comes to making public claims that turn out to be light on truthfulness. But in this instance, the idea that dozens of disenchanted EFF members would not be able to rustle up a single party T-shirt among them does strain credibility – and there’s no disputing the footage by journalists of EFF T-shirts being provided by the ANC. 

There’s one further aspect we should maybe consider: That Mbalula has not been having an amazing run of it this week when it comes to truth-telling.

At the same T-shirt event, Mbalula explicitly told the crowd that political figures like former ANC veteran Mavuso Msimang were being bribed to join a new political party launched by businessman Roger Jardine. 

And here’s Mbalula’s explanation afterwards for why he doesn’t need to apologise for that claim. (Mbalula was subsequently lent on by senior ANC figures to apologise, according to reports.)

It’s not looking good on the T-shirt front. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Con Tester says:

    Neither the ANC nor the EFF can be trusted when it comes to assertions concerning political matters. However, in this specific instance there can be little doubt that the ANC is enthusiastically lying through its green, black, and yellow teeth. This inference is almost self-evident when one considers the disquiet that has gripped the party over its prospects in next year’s elections. Among several lesser subterfuges, its renewed vigour in loudly railing against corruption, Mavuso Msimang’s reversal, Ramaposeur’s stated intention to appeal against the High Court ruling invalidating his recognition of Zulu king Misuzulu, and NHI and the BIG legislation being hurriedly pushed through, are all naught but ploys designed either to prevent losing voters, or to convince voters that the ANC is the party for which to vote, or both. As evidenced by history, the ANC will happily manufacture dodgy narratives in support of its ambitions. More concerning, though, is that it’s now clear that the party will also happily bankrupt the country if that furthers its obsessive megalomania.

    Pity, then, that the largest part of SA’s electorate suffers from such extreme soft-focus gullibility.

  • Skerminkel the Third says:

    Despite the title there is no real fact-checking here. Merely ANC said this… EFF claimed that.

  • J vN says:

    As per the Monty Python sketch: spot the brain cell in any of the photos.

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