The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has grown in leaps and bounds, party leader Julius Malema told a stadium full of supporters during the party’s Tshela Thupa Rally at Orlando Stadium on May 5. Scores of supporters attended what was the EFF’s final attempt at canvassing for votes, days before the country went to the polls for what has been described as one of the country’s most crucial national elections since the dawn of democracy.
Tshela Thupa, which loosely translated means “giving a hiding” in SeSotho, was the theme for the party’s rally, a clear indicator of the EFF leader’s plan of action before the elections.
Although the ANC won the national majority vote with a majority of 57.50% followed by the DA’s 20.77%, the EFF showed significant growth since the last election’s 6.35% and grabbed nearly 10.8% of the national vote. The party’s growth has clearly surpassed assumptions on their ability to stay afloat, and during the party’s rally at Orlando Stadium, Malema took a jab at those who assumed they had no staying power.
Here are five quotes from the party leader which may force even the most headstrong opposition party leader to acknowledge that the party shouldn’t be ignored.
- “They thought we were a Mickey Mouse organisation, but now they realise we are a force to be reckoned with.”
Even though the EFF formed as a result of Malema being ousted from the ANC, the leader quickly saw a gap and founded the party which he has described as a government in waiting, adding that people were no longer willing to wait for the land and jobs the ANC had failed to deliver since it took power in 1994.
- “We are the future of South Africa.”
The party has strategically aligned itself with the youth – the future of the country – claiming the ruling party was deliberately serving as gatekeepers to keep the youth out of politics and that parliament members needed younger blood. This was a stance the EFF’s spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi underlined with when he described some parliament members as “sleepists” for falling asleep during parliament. Another solid indicator of the party rekindling their support for the youth was when party members did the popular dance move – the vosho, in parliament this year.
- “Five years looks like this… who would have thought, who would have imagined? They gave us a year, they gave us two years, even three years.”
Who would have thought indeed? As the party continues their upward trajectory in terms of support, the rise may be a solid indicator that the party will survive the next few years until the next election.
- “We are inspired and want to liberate an African child.”
Post-elections and the party has roped in youth heavyweights such as Vuyani Pambo and Naledi Chirwa, who join the country’s sixth parliament. The two have been fierce activists at the forefront of the #FeesMustFall movement, which advocated for free higher education for poor students. This is a clear indicator of the party’s support for radical young leaders, who have often faced criticism for their radical approach to politics.
- “Like it or not, we are everywhere.”
These were confident words from a leader who told detractors that the party was growing at an exponential rate as even grannies were now attending EFF events. This, according to Malema, was proof that both the young and old were agreeing that the party was on to something. While some may question the part’s approach of politics, the EFF’s following continues to grow at an alarming rate, both in and out of the country.
Malema has even claimed that former president Nelson Mandela handed over the baton to the EFF, maintaining that the party was for the youth who had the energy to do what the country needed.
From a fierce social media presence to being one of the youngest parties to have released an app, the EFF, although known for their “radical” outbursts, protests, and violence – with some members face charges – appears to be solidly walking a tight rope headed for the next elections.