At a press briefing on Thursday afternoon, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema accused the “capitalist establishment, including international media,” of trying to “force” President Cyril Ramaphosa on the people of South Africa.
“If it were according to the capitalist and establishment media wishes, Cyril Ramaphosa would have achieved 80% ANC victory, and yet in reality the ANC support reduced in all provinces under his leadership,” Malema said.
According to him, this was evidence that a “significant number” of South Africans “refused to be puppets”.
Malema also accused the “mainstream media” in South Africa of being “out of touch with reality and what is happening on the ground”.
He believes the party did far better than local media made out they would.
“The Economic Freedom Fighters welcomes the outcomes of the 2019 General Elections and conveys its sincere gratitude and thankfulness to the the more than 1.8 million voters who showed confidence in the organisation,” Malema said.
“When comparing the 2014 and 2019 General Elections, the EFF recorded the most tremendous growth, meaning that more and more South Africans have confidence in the struggle for economic freedom,” he continued.
“As a result of the 2019 elections, the EFF has 103 members of parliament and members of the provincial legislatures, with 44 in the National Assembly, nine in the National Council of Provinces and 50 MPLs.”
Malema said he “particularly welcomes” the fact that the party was now the official opposition in three provinces [Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West] and showed “tremendous growth” in KwaZulu-Natal.
He attributed these victories to the work of the “militant and hardworking” ground forces who campaigned for the party.
“To these ground forces we say salute and affirm that history will bestow you with the honour of being true soldiers in the war for economic emancipation,” he said.
The EFF is the only one of South Africa’s big three parties to have grown in the May 8 elections.
The party has grown substantially, with a tally of 10.79 % of the national vote almost doubling the party’s vote share from the 6.35% it received in South Africa’s last national elections.
However, the EFF’s leadership made bold predictions regarding the results, with Malema even saying the party would not go into any coalitions as they were going for a “decisive victory” that would allow them to “govern South Africa”.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga told The Citizen the party has a history of overestimating itself.
“It is not the first time the EFF is overshooting,” he said. “It was the same thing in the 2014 election, when they projected themselves to [take a share of the vote] to the range of around 21%, and it was the same thing in 2016, with the local government election.
They are the masters of communication, the masters of exaggeration.”
Some have also said that social media made the party’s support base seem bigger than it is, with a Business Insider article looking at the level of support enjoyed by South Africa’s political parties on social media, calling the party’s presence “hugely exaggerated” online.
The growth was also less than predicted by surveys released by the South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR), with the last poll the institute released predicting they would achieve 14.9% of the vote nationally.