JULIUS Malema’s political comeback seemed imminent on Thursday when he was officially announced as commander in chief of newly formed protest movement the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which looks set to contest the national elections next year.
However, Mr Malema told a media briefing at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg that the EFF — described as a radical left, anticapitalist and anti-imperialist movement with an international outlook — was not about people who were seeking to regain lost power.
He said the final decision on whether the EFF would contest the elections would be made at a meeting in Soweto at the end of this month, where policies would also be adopted.
"If we resolve that we are going to contest elections, be guaranteed that we will be the government," Mr Malema said, prompting loud applause from supporters wearing red berets.
The EFF announced its core leadership and provincial leaders. Among them were Mpho Ramakatsa, the former leader of disgruntled African National Congress (ANC) members in the Free State, as well as former ANC Youth League spokesman Floyd Shivambu, former Generations actor Fana Mokoena, and businessman and socialite Kenny Kunene.
Mr Malema said the EFF’s founding policy direction — "nonnegotiable" — was a push for the nationalisation of mines and the finance sector, a protectionist economy and free basic services, as well as land expropriation without compensation.
Mr Mokoena, speaking on the sidelines of Thursday’s briefing, said he had been drawn to the EFF because of its policies. The actor, who declined to comment further, has a substantial following on social media network Twitter, where he frequently shares his political views.
Mr Malema said the EFF would work with anyone who shared its ideological outlook. Asked whether the organisation would woo sacked human settlements minister Tokyo Sexwale, Mr Malema said it was not seeking to lobby high-profile politicians and the elite.
However, he said, the movement was talking to "strategically positioned" people who could assist with "financing the revolution".
Mr Malema was expelled from the ANC in April 2012 and lost his presidency of the ANC Youth League. His properties have recently been auctioned to settle a R16m tax bill. He is also expected back in court in November to answer to charges of racketeering and money laundering.