ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba on Wednesday clarified his party’s reasons for excluding the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) from their proposal of a multi-party engagement platform to respond more effectively to the Covid-19 crisis in the country.
Mashaba announced on Tuesday that he had written to several leaders of opposition parties about the platform, but he deliberately excluded the EFF and the governing ANC. The parties included were the DA, United Democratic Movement, Freedom Front Plus, African Christian Democratic Party, Congress of the People, Inkatha Freedom Party, and Mmusi Maimane’s One SA Movement.
Mashaba said in a statement his party excluded the EFF because it was “a threat to our hard-won constitutional democracy and a party that openly champions the collapse of the South African economy”.
Speaking to The Citizen, he said the Red Berets’ approach to the management of the country’s borders was one of the reasons for the exclusion.
“One of the biggest problems with this Covid-19 is the EFF’s approach to open borders when South Africans are unable to deal with their own issues,” Mashaba said.
“So, to really invite them to this platform I know I will be wasting their time and mine. I can only in life deal with things that I have a chance of succeeding in. We are going to have different views of opinion because I don’t believe in open borders because they compound our challenges as a society.”
The EFF and the ActionSA leader have recently squared off over the party’s stance on immigration and open borders. Earlier this month, EFF leader Julius Malema called for border gates to be open following congestion at the country’s borders during the festive period.
Mashaba, despite working with the EFF while he was Johannesburg mayor, lodged a complaint in Parliament against Malema over his controversial remarks, in which he also said citizens from Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries should “please find a creative way” of entering South Africa.
Asked about whether he was concerned about criticism from the EFF over his remarks about the party, Mashaba said he was not in politics to make friends.
“I’m not here to make friends with anyone. People must understand I’m not in this job to make friendship with anyone. I’m in this job for the love of my country and service to its citizens. So, if it means in the process I lose friends, it’s okay and I’m happy to live with that,” he said.
He added: “I value friendship in my life but friendship is not what determines how I operate, more especially when I deal with serious matters of this nature.”
Mashaba also said he was waiting for a response from the opposition parties represented in Parliament and in due course he would communicate further.
Attempts to get hold of the EFF on the matter were unsuccessful. The story will be updated once the comment is available.