Malema rouses capacity crowd at EFF manifesto launch
Johannesburg - The Economic Freedom Fighters put on a red-hot show at their local election manifesto launch in front of a roaring capacity crowd at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday.
Leader Julius Malema's wide-ranging address included threats against President Jacob Zuma, suggestions for improved municipal services – including houses better suited for "touching" between parents - a diatribe against bicycle lanes, the promotion of reading, rhetoric on land redistribution, and a recitation of the EFF's parliamentary achievements.
"I am whispering to you, Zuma, wherever you are, those soldiers are going to turn their guns against you," Malema told supporters during a near two-hour speech in which he spoke without pause or a sip of water until his voice started to break.
"Leave office before the soldiers turn against you. The army is EFF."
The EFF was "not afraid" of Zuma, he said.
"Zuma will not be president by 2019... The army is going to take... [up] arms against them [the government]. This army will turn."
Malema said that, while the Economic Freedom Fighters was "the most peaceful organisation," it would "defend" itself.
"We are not provoking violen... We fight in Parliament. We fight in court...
"We will never start any violence. We will never... [point] guns at innocent people. But anyone who comes with violence and thinks that they can intimidate with violence – we will defend ourselves…
"We are not scared of war. Neither are we scared of violence."
He said that it was only because "the ANC is led by clowns" that comments he made to Al Jazeera in a recent interview had been called treasonous.
'Since when is the truth a treason?'
Police Minister Nathi Nhleko recently announced that the Hawks would investigate Malema's comments that the EFF would remove the government "through the barrel of a gun".
But, said Malema to the crowd, "I only speak the truth to power... Since when is the truth a treason?
"Anyone who wants to arrest me here, I am here. You can arrest me now."
Malema was also scathing in his reference to State Security Minister David Mahlobo. "You are a small boy… you are an intelligence minister who is not intelligent."
Malema concluded this section of his speech by holding up a pamphlet containing the EFF's local government manifesto.
"This is your weapon," he declared, as party leaders behind him also held the pamphlet aloft.
"This is the gun I am talking about. Take up this gun and go and shoot them."
The EFF – currently the third largest political party in South Africa – will be contesting the local government elections for the first time.
The party was formed by the ousted ANC Youth League leader in 2013 and managed to garner 6.35% of the vote in the general elections the following year.
On Saturday, party supporters packed the 40 000-seat stadium, some carrying cardboard coffins with pictures of Zuma, and cheered during motor bike shows.
At one stage, a supporter ran onto the stadium stage, crying, "I just want to see him", before being removed by security.
During his address, Malema also had strong words for the IEC.
"I want to warn the IEC, please be like the judiciary and be independent. You stole our votes in Alexandra. We defeated the ANC in Gauteng in 2014. They stole our votes."
Malema said there were only two political parties in the country that should contest the elections, the ANC and EFF. "Everyone else is wasting time."
'This is not a Malema manifesto'
Malema went into detail on the EFF's vision for municipal service.
"Everything the EFF municipality does should be people-centred and should be directed toward creation of jobs and provision of quality services to all," said Malema.
"This is not a Malema manifesto, but a people's one, filled with their demands."
Using the example of housing, Malema said that the EFF would ensure that the kinds of homes provided for the poor would be suitable to give families back their dignity.
"I want the parents to touch each other without the disturbance of the children. I want you to reproduce. We want you to be a proper family with a proper roof."
Malema asserted, at several points, his party's policy of land appropriation without compensation – but sought to assure white people that this policy was not intended to kick them out of the country.
"We are not chasing the whites away. We are saying you have too much la... Don’t go away. We want you here in SA. We were learn from you and you will learn from us, but 80% of the land belongs to us."
Malema also declared that those wanting to be municipal councillors under the EFF had better pick up a book.
"A councillor of the EFF must love reading. You must read everything."
He condemned councillors who did not help their communities. "A councillor can't get drunk and pee on the side of the street in front of children."
Malema said municipalities needed to get their priorities right.
"[The] EFF government will not build bicycle lanes as long as people still live in shacks… Let the rich be patient while we give services to the poor."
'We have woken them up'
Malema also detailed his party's successes since joining Parliament.
"We said we are going to Parliament to stop the Nkandla corruption, I'm happy to say, we have stopped that. They were undermining the Public Protector's office, I’m happy to say, we have changed that."
He also suggested that the EFF's presence in Parliament had prevented MPs from snoozing.
"They used to sleep in Parliament, but we have woken them up," said Malema.
"Even [President Jacob] Zuma used to sleep in Parliament, but today the old man is always awake because there is no bed of roses for Zuma in Parliament."
Malema said that since gaining its 25 seats, the party was changing Parliament to be more representative of the country's people.
"They [EFF MPs] sound like they are 250, yet they are 25."
Earlier the party made a political statement when singing the original liberation struggle rendition of Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika, which, unlike the current national anthem, does not include Die Stem.
As Malema concluded his speech, machine gun sound effects erupted, along with confetti and smoke machines.
Party leaders made a raise the roof gesture as a group of men dressed in army fatigues and red berets stood to solemn attention.
This article first appeared on News24 – see here.