Former Gauteng Premier Mbazima Shilowa took to Twitter to ask how people who had “written off” the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were now being so audacious as to offer advice to the party.
“It’s funny how people who wrote off the EFF are now giving them advice. Njani [How]?” asked Shilowa, who lost a protracted leadership battle a few years ago against Mosiuoa Lekota for control of ANC breakaway party Congress of the People (Cope). The battle between Lekota and Shilowa saw support for the party decline rapidly after it took nearly 7.5% of the national vote in 2009.
Shilowa, who co-founded Cope with Lekota, declared in 2011 that rejoining the ANC would not happen in this lifetime.
Just like Cope, many declared that the EFF would only enjoy votes during their first election, and then they would “inevitably” fade away. But looking at the results of the local government elections, the EFF has managed to not only grow its support base countrywide, it has badly destabilised the ANC, particularly in urban metros. As a result, the DA has now gained control of Tshwane, Johanneburg and Nelson Mandela Bay, where Athol Trollip was elected mayor unopposed on Thursday morning.
EFF leader Julius Malema also slated struggle veterans during his party’s media briefing in Alexandra on Wednesday. He said they shouldn’t offer any advice to the EFF, as their time had expired.
“The veterans, my brother, we have a long relationship with them. Some of them … we grew under them … they mentored us. We are what we are because of them. And to mention them like this, it will affect us … our personal relationship. All we are saying as a general statement, is that … they must not call us. Because even those that never called us, during the difficult times in our lives, today have some courage to call us. We are not kids. We know what we are doing. No one should treat us like we are kids. We have gone through difficult personal experiences. None of those people has ever called us during that time.”
The EFF leader further alleged that ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe told Wits University lecturers not to supervise EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu after Malema and Shivambu were suspended (and later expelled) from the ANC in 2012. Malema said the veterans were not there to console them at that, thus, they should not call them now. He said they should remain “veterans of the ANC” and give advice to President Jacob Zuma instead.
“Do you know lecturers were told at Wits not to supervise Floyd’s master’s [degree] when we were fired from the ANC? Lecturers were told by Gwede that when you supervise Floyd you are committing a career suicide. There was no veteran to call us and tell us tomorrow will be better than today. Where were they? Why are they veterans today when they are not veterans during difficult times? So let them continue to be veterans of the ANC. They have chosen Zuma. Why are they not going to advise Zuma to step down?”
Mantashe could not be reached for comment.