Leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters Julius Malema made an astonishing statement in an interview on eNCA’s CheckPoint that was broadcast for the first time on Tuesday night.
He said that he had a vision of the EFF and the ANC merging in such a fashion that both parties cease to exist and continue under a new name. He even went so far as to say that they would have to find new headquarters somewhere other than Luthuli House.
He said this could be necessitated by the ANC not achieving 50% of the national vote, and needing the EFF as a coalition partner to retain power. He made it clear that in that situation, he would choose the ANC, not the DA, but it would have to happen under such severe conditions that the ANC as a concept ceased to exist. It would, in effect, herald the end of the ANC’s history and the start of something completely new.
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He told the show’s anchor, Nkepile Mabuse: “My imagination of 2019 is that the ANC goes below 50%, the EFF goes to 9 … 10%. The ANC needs the EFF, the DA needs the EFF…”
He said he would offer a merger to the ANC in that case.
“The EFF and the ANC must come together. And then we collapse the name ANC. We close Luthuli House. We go and open headquarters of this new party in Soweto, where our people are, and then we start afresh.
“The merger will have to produce a unique leadership, which will appeal to our people, because the name ANC is going to remind people of our painful past. There is no EFF joining the ANC. There’s no such a thing. We’ll rather talk about the establishment of a new party completely and then we all leave our history there. This is the beginning of a new era.”
Political analyst Aubrey Mashiqi told Mabuse he found Julius Malema’s statement “surprising”. He said he thought Malema would have been a bit more guarded ahead of the 2019 elections.
“I suspect that when he said that to you, he was not talking to you, he was talking to the ANC. He’s sending a message to the ANC. He’s saying: ‘I or the EFF or both of us are open to a conversation about 2019; a conversation that is not going to exclude the possibility of a merger or a coalition.'”
ANC NEC member and Minister of Small Business Lindiwe Zulu said that it had been Malema’s “behaviour” that had caused him to be ejected from the ruling party, though she failed to make any further contribution to the episode.
Malema continued: “If there was no failing ANC, there would not be Cope [ANC breakaway the Congress of the People], there would not be EFF; we would all be still fighting those battles inside the ANC.”
He said it was the EFF that had gone back to the basics of the Freedom Charter, which the ANC had failed at. He repeated a commonly expressed view that it was the EFF that had fetched the charter from the dustbin the ANC had consigned it to.
He said there were still people in the ANC he’d be happy to work with, such as Kgalema Motlanthe, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and others.
Mashiqi offered the insight that Madikizela-Mandela would probably end up playing a mediation role between Malema and possible future president of the country Cyril Ramaphosa, who she would have to “make acceptable” to Malema and the EFF, “given Marikana”.
“That entails a mediation role,” he said. There had been signs at the struggle veteran’s recent 80th birthday party that Madikizela-Mandela has already started playing this role.
Mashiqi added a warning, though, that Malema’s surprising admission that he is looking to merge with the ANC could backfire on him in 2019, since voters who were disillusioned with and had abandoned the ANC might struggle to agree to such an idea.
“2019 might be as disastrous for the EFF as it might be for the ANC,” he said.
What makes the interview even more surprising was the fact that Malema said over the weekend that he would never return to the ANC, while addressing EFF KwaZulu-Natal branch members.
“Go to the ANC? I don’t imagine myself doing that‚” said the EFF leader, who added that the ANC was a threat to the country. Malema repeated the view that even though the EFF’s main enemy was “white monopoly capital”, the ANC was an immediate threat to the country and had to be voted out in the metros. The EFF came under fire after it voted with the DA in the local government elections, ousting the ANC in major metros Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay.
He added that “by the time we defeat white people”, there will be no country to inherit, as it would have been destroyed by the ANC.
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Malema said this to a loud crowd cheering, and he reiterated that the EFF did not go into coalition with the DA.
“We voted for the removal of the ANC. For your information, we have not gone into coalition with anyone.
“We did not vote for the DA or the IFP. Anything that would have removed the ANC, we would have voted for them. The ANC is an immediate threat to South Africa.
“We are fighting white monopoly capital. But if we do not deal with the immediate threat called the ANC, by the time we defeat white people, when we come back, there will be not a country called South Africa. It will be destroyed by the ANC.”