THE Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) anticipates a week-long media buzz on United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa’s appearance at the EFF’s official launch on Sunday.
The event took place at the Marikana mining community in the North West, the scene of intense labour strife in August last year in which 34 striking mineworkers were shot and killed by police. In total, at least 44 people died during the six-week long strike.
The EFF, led by former African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema, joins the Workers and Socialist Party (Wasp), the African People’s Convention and the United Democratic Movement in the battle to win support in the mining community.
Thousands of people gathered around the two koppies in Marikana where police shot mineworkers.
Addressing EFF supporters on Sunday, Mr Holomisa welcomed the party into the political arena, but warned them to brace themselves for trying times ahead.
“You should not delude yourselves into thinking that life as an opposition is a bowl of cherries,” he said.
Mr Holomisa said the terrain they were entering was a volatile one, which had both ugly and beautiful moments. Offering words of encouragement, he said members should equip themselves with the necessary tools to ensure their survival.
“You need to know that the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission) will refuse to share information you need to strategise and prepare for elections.
“You won’t be told how many ballot papers have been printed and how many of those have serial numbers,” he said.
He told the leadership of the party to keep their eyes “on the ball” at all times, and party agents must be properly trained to safeguard their votes.
“They (the African National Congress) will steal them as so many of you come from there.”
Mr Holomisa said the party was launching at the right time, when the country was questioning the leadership of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). He said the party was imploding and the EFF stood a chance of capitalising on the situation.
‘Malema for president’
Police reservist Molefi Masuele said he and other reservists had joined the day because they believed Mr Malema would give them permanent jobs once he became state president.
“Once Julius takes over and becomes president, we will be permanently employed and not be seen as condoms,” said Mr Masuele, referring to a comment by AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo in July that President Jacob Zuma had ways of “flushing” his opponents like condoms.
“Let us support EFF and ensure we go in our numbers to vote for comrade Julius who will lead us without corruption,” the reservist said.
Mr Holomisa’s UDM is a significant player in the Eastern Cape, the region where the was a homeland leader between 1987 and 1994, and his party in Marikana houses a significant number of mineworkers from the province.
Last month, Mr Holomisa declined to comment on his relationship with fledgling union the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which came into the limelight following the Marikana tragedy, through its rivalry with the National Union of Mineworkers.
Both EFF spokesman Mbuyuseni Ndlosi and the party’s North West organiser Papiki Baboile declined to comment on Mr Holomisa’s presence.
A Gauteng EFF leader said: “Everyone must come to the EFF and be led”.
The Economic Freedom Fighters will be allowed to contest next year’s general elections after receiving a certificate of registration from the Independent Electoral Commission on Monday morning.
Commenting on the party’s launch last week, EFF Gauteng spokesman Patrick Sindane said: “At Marikana we will pick up the bloody spear of the workers who were killed by (President Jacob) Zuma’s and (national police commissioner Riah) Phiyega’s police. We have seen often that at rallies people who say they are from the so-called ANC disrupt our meetings. We have never disrupted ANC meetings. What are they so afraid of?” Mr Sindane asked.
• This article was amended on October 15 2013 to reflect that the quote “Once Julius takes over and becomes president, we will be permanently employed and not be seen as condoms” was said by police reservist Molefi Masuele, not by Mr Holomisa.