Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema addressed his party’s students command at its third national students assembly on Saturday, where he told a gathering of EFF students that the decision to “hold hands” with people from outside the party – particularly white people and ANC supporters – during the Fees Must Fall movement was an example of opportunism.
“There is nothing wrong with grabbing opportunities, there is everything wrong with opportunism,” he said.
“For instance, lets take the struggle for no fee increase, a terrible mistake you committed, you held hands with the children of the oppressors and with people in ANC t-shirts and you say it’s because you needed numbers,” he continued.
This attempt to swell numbers through joining hands with the supposed enemy was actually because those students “needed validation,” Malema added.
“I agree revolution is numbers, but there are times where you need to put an argument alone and the numbers will join you. Quality over quantity. Firstly, let’s sharpen our argument and win society over [for] a number of years.”
The Fees Must Fall movement of student-led protests first began in 2001, culminating in widespread protests that came to a head in 2015, with a three-day student lock-down of the University of Witwatersrand then spreading to campuses across the country.
The protests involved students from a range of parties say no to fee increases and later protest for tuition-free tertiary education, with the ANC and EFF probably the most prominent.
Some of the most prominent Fees Must Fall activists are now represented in parliament, with the EFF appointing Vuyani Pambo, Naledi Chirwa and Peter Keetse as parliamentary candidates.
The ANC followed suit, adding fallist leader Nompendulo Mkhatshwa to their list among other younger leaders in what was considered by some a much-needed injection of youth into its benches.