Land, jobs and energy dominate as EFF launches its manifesto ahead of polls
The EFF was the first of the top three political parties to launch its manifesto ahead of the upcoming polls, at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. The party anchored its manifesto on its usual pillars of land redistribution without compensation and job creation, and this time around rolling blackouts were high up on its agenda.
“Our land and jobs now! Stop load shedding!” EFF leader Julius Malema chanted as he addressed thousands of people who attended the party’s manifesto launch at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, KwaZulu-Natal.
Although the party failed to fill up the 56,000-capacity stadium, the arena was about 70% full when the commander-in-chief of the red berets took to the podium.
Malema uncharacteristically admitted that his health was affected by the windy weather conditions, but even with downpours throughout most of his speech, he continued to deliver his message to the young crowd clad in red EFF garb.
Thank you so much for your concern, fellow brothers and sisters; I don't have flu. The heavy wind and rain activated my sinuses, and I thought the rain was running through my face kante I was heavily attacked🤣🤣🤣.
Otherwise, that's the only thing haters can point to; all was… pic.twitter.com/EUDbvRYhMQ
— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) February 10, 2024
Malema made bold promises coupled with ambitious timelines, which included ending the power crisis in six months, if the EFF was voted in as the majority party.
The ANC has been looking for solutions to end rolling blackouts permanently, with very little progress shown in the past year. The country is currently experiencing Stage 6 rolling blackouts, which sees citizens without power for up to six hours a day.
The EFF is looking to emulate China’s successful models of electricity security. China is one of the world’s top energy producers and consumers. Its energy portfolio consists mainly of domestic coal, oil and gas from domestic and foreign sources and small quantities of uranium.
Read more in Daily Maverick: The EFF’s 10-year milestone – a clear and present political danger to South Africa
Malema emphasised the importance of repairing the existing fleet of power generation facilities and adopting clean coal technologies to enhance the energy availability factor. He explained that while the EFF was not averse to green energy, it was not the right time for the country to hastily shut down its coal power stations.
The EFF is strongly against the privatisation of state-owned utility Eskom and would rather work on improving the utility’s generation capacity.
To boost Eskom’s competency, the EFF set out a plan to establish a state-owned mining company to manage coal mines owned by the power utility. This company would also export surplus coal, prioritising African countries to support their electrification and industrialisation.
The EFF government would terminate all existing contracts with independent power producers and halt the roll-out of new independent power producer projects.
The EFF government would eliminate all historical electricity debts, including municipal debts owed to Eskom, the manifesto states.
Land redistribution not restitution
In the 2019 provincial and national elections, the red berets had a sharp focus on land redistribution as well as jobs, which they are continuing to champion in the 2024 manifesto.
The EFF wants to do away with the land restitution programme as a mechanism for land reform.
Malema mentioned that with a majority in Parliament, the EFF would be able to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to allow land redistribution without compensation.This would then lead to handing over 50% of the land to black people within the first five years in government.
The EFF government would prioritise women and young people in its allocation of land use rights.
At the same time, the party would introduce restrictions on foreign land ownership, targeting what it believes is the hoarding of land by multinationals and billionaires.
Creation of jobs
The country’s unemployment rate stands at 31.9% and the third-largest party believes that it will be able to lower this percentage by supporting key infrastructure projects, industrialisation and its long-standing principle of insourcing.
The EFF wants to establish state-owned housing and roads companies that would deal with the social housing and roads infrastructure backlog. It estimates that this project would in the short to medium term result in nearly 4 million jobs.
The EFF wants to introduce a three shift system (morning, afternoon, and night) to allow the economy to operate 24 hours, ensuring continuous productivity without overworking individual workers and creating millions of jobs.
The party wants to set up special economic zones in Western Cape, Free State, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and North West with zero company taxes and a building allowance, in exchange for each investor creating 2,000 full-time jobs, This would be on condition that workers are paid a minimum wage of R6,000 and pension contributions. This principle was mentioned in the EFF’s 2019 manifesto document.
For those who are not employed, the EFF wants to ensure that individuals with university degrees or diplomas receive a minimum stipend of R5,000 a month whether employed or not.
The party wants to establish a state-owned security company that would insource all security personnel working in government facilities, which it estimates would immediately create 1.2 million sustainable and “quality jobs”.
In addition, it is looking to establish a state-owned cleaning, horticulture, and landscaping company that would provide these services to state and public facilities.
While the EFF’s manifesto seems to be ambitious and may raise questions around whether it would be implementable, political analyst Sipho Seepe told Daily Maverick there was nothing sinister with the red berets’ promises.
He said manifestos were merely a way to give voters an idea of what political parties had to offer, and steps towards implementation only became relevant if the organisation won a majority of the votes.
“Any party that is not ambitious, is not worth being voted for. Parties should be able to see that people do not eat ideas; they must give them a sense that they will be able to address the hell that they are going through and the hell that African people are going through is the hell of landlessness. If you want to woo people, you will speak about their plight,” Seepe said.
He went on to say that the land question remained topical in South Africa as the ANC had been unable to effectively address it.
“First, land remains one of the unresolved issues of the liberation movements. It is key – what Nelson Mandela called the anti-colonial struggles. All liberation struggles are based on land. Second, land is a signifier of poverty. As we speak, Africans are in no better situation in terms of land ownership as they were under apartheid.
“They are home to the sprawling squatter camps in all of the nine provinces. This should be a matter that concerns all Africans, not only the EFF. Finally, manifestos are not places for providing clear plans. Manifesto launches are simply statements by political parties that say to the electorate that ‘we are alive to your concerns’,” he said.
Analyst Levy Ndou further added that when political parties are campaigning, they make promises so that people can vote for them even though they may be viewed as unrealistic. Despite this he said “some people might see that as an alternative for what they have and vote for them.” DM