NUMSA's assessment of the EFF

09 January 2014

Union says there are two key gaps, from a working class perspective, in the positions of the Fighters (Dec 2013)

Extract from Secretariat Report to NUMSA Special National Congress December 17 to 20, 2013

Economic Freedom Fighters

The EFF is a very young organisation (launched in July 2013), which makes it more difficult to be certain about the class composition of its membership.

1. Class composition

The class composition seems to be predominantly working class youth, with some membership amongst workers themselves. There is a very high rate of unemployment amongst working class youth. Unemployed working class youth, as a social force, differ from the organised working class in their relation to the means of production. Workers confront the owners of capital and their servants on a daily basis at the point of production. This grounds the class interests of workers in a clear confrontation with capital.

Unemployed youth, and indeed the unemployed in general, do not face the same immediate contradiction. This is why they are a less reliable class force than workers. At times unemployed youth can be mobilised around a political platform that is populist rather than proletarian. Such mobilisation can be dangerous to the interests of workers. That is why as Numsa we follow the Communist Manifesto "the proletariat alone is a real revolutionary class". We can win the unemployed youth to our socialist struggle, but they need the leadership of the organised working class.

2. Class politics in theory

The political posture of the EFF, as it is written in the organisation's declaration and manifesto, is very similar to that of Numsa. It describes itself as drawing "inspiration from the broad Marxist- Leninist tradition and Fanonian schools of thought in their analyses of the state, imperialism, culture and class contradictions in every society". ‘Fanonian' refers to Frantz Fanon, an anti-imperialist and Marxist whose work was influential in Black Consciousness. EFF also says it is inspired by the Cuban July 26 Movement which led the Cuban revolution.

EFF supports:

  • Expropriation of South Africa's land without compensation for equal redistribution in use.
  • Nationalisation of mines, banks, and other strategic sectors of the economy, without compensation.
  • Building state and government capacity, which will lead to the abolishment of tenders.
  • Free quality education, healthcare, houses, and sanitation.
  • Massive protected industrial development to create millions of sustainable jobs, including the introduction of minimum wages in order to close the wage gap between the rich and the poor, close the apartheid wage gap and promote rapid career paths for Africans in the workplace.
  • Massive development of the African economy and advocating for a move from reconciliation to justice in the entire continent.
  • Open, accountable, corrupt-free government and society without fear of victimisation by state agencies.

There are two key gaps, from a working class perspective, in the positions of EFF:

EFF supports nationalisation but has never indicated any support for that nationalisation to take place under workers' control. In fact it has indicated recently that it might include, at least temporarily, the state taking majority shareholdings. We know that nationalisation by itself is not necessarily in the interests of the working class.

  • One example is Argentina in the 1940s: nationalisation of the railways as well as foreign-owned gas, electricity and communication companies was an example of populist nationalism (called Peronism) not socialism. Trade unions were tightly controlled and the regime was repressive
  • Another example is Britain, also in the 1940s: the nationalisation of the British steel industry was carried out in order to enable capitalist manufacturing to flourish, not to empower the working class.

So, whilst Numsa's position is a clear class position, the position of the EFF is not.

The EFF is explicitly anti-capitalist, but it is not socialist. In the 22 page EFF manifesto, whilst there is a commitment to anti-capitalism and anti-imperialism, the word ‘socialism' does not appear at all. So the organisation is committed to a struggle against capitalism, but it does not clarify what kind of society it is struggling for.

3. Track Record

During its brief existence it has supported working class communities and workers in the mining industry and taken clear positions against e-tolls and labour brokers. However, given how young the organisation is, it is also necessary to look at the actions of its leaders before its formation.

The most disturbing issue, for us as a working class organisation, is that the President and Commander and Chief of EFF has been a Director of companies which do work for government on the basis of tenders. This is relevant since it is EFF policy to rebuild the capacity of the state and thus do away with ‘tenderpreneurs'. When asked about alleged payment for tenders in Limpopo, the EFF President said "There is no money that came to me or any of my entities." Court cases are still pending on whether Malema committed any illegal acts, but 2 things are clear:

The EFF President accepts that he is a businessman when he talks of "my entities". He has at one time or another been a Director of the following companies:

  • SGL Engineering Projects,
  • 101 Junjus Trading,
  • Blue Nightingale Trading 61 o Ever Roaring Investments. o Ngkape Mining Investments

So, whatever his class position now, the Commander and Chief has recently been a capitalist.

The Report of the Public Protector makes a clear finding that, on the question of tenders between the Limpopo Department of Roads and Transport and On-Point Engineering:

  • The EFF President's family trust, the Ratanang Family Trust, owned 50% of On-Point Engineering
  • Ratanang "benefited improperly from the unlawful, fraudulent and corrupt conduct of On-Point and maladministration of the Department".

4. Democracy

The democratic practice of EFF has not yet been seriously tested, so In order to make an assessment, we can look at two aspects of the organisation:

A. Its Constitution

B. The practice of its leadership before the formation of the EFF

A. Constitution

The EFF Constitution says that "The organizational principle of the EFF is democratic centralism." In principle this involves open and democratic debate until an organisation has decided an issue, followed by unity in action around the majority decision. Democratic centralism through history has taken different forms. The main variable has been the extent and nature of the democracy that is permitted and encouraged before the organisation makes its decisions.

A key issue is whether or not members are permitted to caucus around their positions during the discussion phase. In the Bolshevik party before 1921, these caucuses were allowed. They were banned in 1921, leading to a more centralised, commandist version of democratic centralism.

The EFF appears, from its constitution, to belong to the later version of democratic centralism. Here are some examples:

The whole organization must observe unified discipline: The guiding principle is that at all times the individual is subordinate to the organization, the minority is subordinate to the majority, the lower level is subordinate to the higher level, and the entire EFF is subordinate to the CCT.

Discipline for anyone who "absents her/himself from any meeting, gathering, conference, workshop or any other event, being so required to attend by the CCT or any branch or other component structure of the EFF"

One of the duties of a member is: "To observe and resort to the Policies, Resolutions, Decisions of the Central Command Team and the Rules and Regulations of the EFF."

"The National People's Assembly elects the CCT which develops the political line and policy to meet the challenges of leading the revolutionary struggle."

Although there are clauses which state encouragement of internal debate, structurally it looks like a Command structure and it uses military language for its positions (Commander in Chief) and its structures (Central Command Team).

The central command team comprises the Commander in Chief, the GS, 18 national Commissars, 2 Office Bearers from each Provincial Command Team, plus a representative from each Provincial Women's command and youth command. The presence of 20 national officials on this team reinforces the impression of a very centralised structure.

B. Leadership Practice

Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu, key founding leaders of the EFF, were leaders of the ANC Youth League. Although no conclusive evidence is available, their leadership was plagued by allegations of undemocratic practices in relation to elections in the organisation, and silencing of opponents.

Issued by NUMSA, December 21 2013

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 responses to this article

Very sober comment from Numsa, but too early to dissciate them from EFF
This comment from Numsa is sober, yet not biting enough considering the fact that EFF was formed by a gang of dictators and thieves.

I like the very last sentence though. It probably captures the type of leadership to be expected from Malema and . .more

by Bhekuzulu on January 09 2014, 16:18
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Unite Africans unite! ANC, EFF, Numsa, UDM, AMCU you are one.
While you fight amongst yourself you are reversing all the Revolutionary gains. The enemy today is the subtle Economic Apartheid (White Pvt Sector, IEB, white media and their front DA/FF+/ Afriforums). Phansi with divisions phansi!

by Kom Net Met Dromedaries on January 09 2014, 16:23
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this thing of objecting EFF to malema is michievious,EFF is not malema unlike some ruling party.Numsa better stop the sounds bites and lip service and completely disassociate itself from Anc if they want to be taken seriously...

by lesego on January 09 2014, 16:48
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EFF our future!
There is no such a thing called party owner or organisation owner, members of EFF r very well educated frm technicons,varsities etc n have sober minds mostly unemployed yes coz certain capitalist doesn't care about our future!

Malema is human . .more

by seabi on January 09 2014, 17:18
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Impressive analysis
NUMSA is a genuine socialist organisation.

EFF is a mixture of political gangsters (Malema & Shivambu) and socio-path (Mngxitama) and some naive kids. Malema et al are just trying to exploit people's suffering for their own enrichment.

by MJH on January 09 2014, 18:21
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Julius Malema and Thomas Sankara
Anyone that wants to check how serious EFF are just needs to compare the car that Thomas Sankara drove to the car that Malema drives. Then it all becomes obvious what a scam EFF is.

Numsa is walking the talk.

by George on January 09 2014, 18:50
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Some sober advice for the NUMSA/EFF gangsters.

Only one problem, my loquacious comrades,.. Your use of the word 'Wekas' is a bit of an oxymoron, as the 'wekas' are generally allergic to any form of "WEK"!

@kom net met die dom-D***.

You Bantu are worse than the Afrikaner ever was . .more

by Braam Fischer on January 09 2014, 19:23
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Numsa assessment to EFF
If assessment from Numsa is that EFF is still new then the only old party and still relevent is the ANC. Else Eff might be new but interesting is when Numsa don't find political home and end up registering new party which will be new from the box than . .more

by Dukes on January 09 2014, 23:17
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Utter rubbish
Let us look at who Numsa has been associated with before they broke their links with ANC - in Polokwane and prior Polokwane, they promoted JZ as a pro worker future President. They endorsed Zuma despite rape, Schabir Shaik, they were quiet about Nkandla . .more

by Themba on January 10 2014, 01:43
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Unite Africans unite! ANC, EFF,NUM, Numsa, UDM, AMCU you are one!
Let us not forget who the enemy is- white supremacy! Let's not fight amongst ourselves comrades! Fighting amongst ourselves is simply counter-revolutionary. The enemy today is White Economic Supremacy, Apartheid, White-owned media and their front-runners . .more

by Dan Modupi on January 10 2014, 03:08
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You don't need to CONFRONT Capital !!! can walk away and occupy your time elsewhere. Those that have EMBRACED Capital, are the most prosperous on earth, and forever will be !!

by Antonio on January 10 2014, 07:27
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Harsh realities and true reflections of EFF thank you NUMSA
Julius has demonstrated who he is,in his leadership of the Youth League and ignored the cry of the youth and made himself and family rich by fraud and bridges that were falling apart.
He has beneffitted from using young people and when his lines of . .more

by Lunga on January 10 2014, 07:29
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Thanx Cde Jim, EFF is a scheme to elevate juju back to Sandton,they are not representing the poor masses, there are not clean in fighting against corruption becouse their leader is implicated in money laundering,it's just a disgruntled members from . .more

by Zitho on January 10 2014, 07:52
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@dukes well said leader

by Zitho on January 10 2014, 07:54
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Julius didn't even give Floyed a chance to be an independed spokeperson of the Youth League he wanted to do things by himself talking of a true populist. Floyed was just his boy and servant. Now makes us believe members in this EFF will have a freedom to . .more

by Lunga on January 10 2014, 08:00
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What is the point here?
Can someone tell highlight to me the point that Numsa is trying to make here? What is their conclusion on the whole thing?

by Mab on January 10 2014, 08:13
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Colonial Power.
It may … be an utter myth to even suggest that the anti-colonial struggle was a struggle to bring liberated and accountable democratic regimes and states into being.

It may well … in the long run … be realised that the armed liberation . .more

by Paul C on January 10 2014, 08:33
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JUJU is not EFF, ANC must just watch the space come the elections. EFF is gonna hit them big time. South African youth is coming.

by EFF on January 10 2014, 08:34
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Repeat especially for Dan Modupi
Colonial Power.

It is a myth that the anti-colonial struggle was a struggle to bring liberated and accountable democratic regimes and states into being.

The armed liberation struggles were just a struggle for power and money. . .more

by Paul C on January 10 2014, 08:36
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George on January 09 2014, 18:50

If I am not mistaken Sankara used to go around in a Renault 4.

by Domza on January 10 2014, 09:59
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The truth shall set you free.
It is only Jesus that can:
Fill the need in men's hearts, quench the souls thirst and forgive your sins.
Africa needs Jesus.
There is no alternative.
Jesus said: "I am the way..."

by Paul C on January 10 2014, 09:59
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A PT for South Africa
Very interesting piece by William Gumede in today's paper.

The PT in Brazil was apparently started by the metal workers union there. Very interesting.

Malema is just a crook on the make. NUMSA is a credible alternative.

by Paul on January 10 2014, 10:17
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EFF, a horse of another colour
Julius is just Eugene Terblanche in drag. He spouts the same rubbish, just colours his audience differently. Nicer hats than the AWB, but the same populist pandering to the "home crowd".

by JJ on January 10 2014, 11:06
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I smell...
a takeover bid.

by Just Me. on January 10 2014, 11:47
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Let me summarise this
Union says there are TWO key gaps, from a working class perspective, in the positions of the Fighters (Dec 2013)
1. Class composition
2. Class politics in theory
3. Track Record
4. Democracy


by Al on January 10 2014, 11:53
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Check from paragraph 6 - as I understand the two gaps relates to nationalisation and lack of clarity on class composition (i.e. whether or not the society envisioned by EFF is socialist in character).

by Just Me. on January 10 2014, 12:41
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i am NUMSA member and EFF supporter
NUMSA is a bit harsh to castigate MALEMA and EFF, not so long ago NUMSA was supporting the ANC. An organisation that has proven itself as the best friend of capital for more than 20 years but today they think EFF should be perfect in 6 months. EFF is a . .more

by Hands off EFF on January 10 2014, 12:44
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NUMSA assessment of EFF
In many respects the assessment by NUMSA of EFF is spot on. The leadership of EFF embodied in Julius Malema in Marxist language is the epitome of a lumpen proletariat. Evidently the gems of a workers party cannot coalesced around a leadership that in . .more

by Mzukisi Gaba. Cape town on January 10 2014, 12:47
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It does not make sense to compare a union and polical party,Let alone labelling the leaders of EFF while forgeting that you are Vavi's adherents and he also has his own evil deeds.
Come to the party and vote for EFF.Form an umbrela union that will . .more

by COMMANDER IN SIYABUSWA on January 10 2014, 12:47
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ANC has done more for capital than the NATS and the DA
EFF is far better than the ANC as far as socialism is concerned. NUMSA was in bed with the ANC for years and now they claim to holier than thou, EFF is as socialist as it get as far as SOUTH african politics. NUMSA be wise EFF your best choice. Instead of . .more

by NUMSA "nobody is perfect" , look in the mirror on January 10 2014, 12:57
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NUMSA i love u but i would leave u for EFF
EFF is still young give it a chance, if you think you can help it move closer to it but dont criticise it so early. its still developing. At least MALEMA had the balls to stand up to the zuma rot and gave us an alternative. some of us would have been lost . .more

by EFF is still young, dont attack it help it on January 10 2014, 13:06
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I am really impressed that NUMSA has truthfully take into consideration the type of leadership structures of EFF. I have always indicated that the military STYLE of using names like Commander in Chief trully represents totalitarian and dictotorship kind . .more

by NEETE on January 10 2014, 13:38
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comparison with an intention to take over
NUMSA is comparing itself with EFF as political parties that stand against the ANC. it is clear NUMSA intends to form its own party and is already sounding its pre-launch manifesto/constitution. a union cannot suddenly try to compete with a union unless . .more

by sandile on January 10 2014, 15:49
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Lack of depth.
People only vote for the anc because they do not see an alternative.

They really need more choices.

by Paul C on January 10 2014, 16:06
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EFF is an alternative
Viva EFF VIVA the couragous Julius Malema VIVA, No leader is perfect especially if we start lokking into peoples history. Even Mandela left us in poverty due his business friendly policies. Today capital and former oppressors are making more money than . .more

by EFF is not 100% and so is NUMSA on January 10 2014, 16:27
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Unite Africans unite! ANC, EFF, Numsa, UDM, AMCU you are one.
Not even a month since we laid the Father of the Nation to rest and his memory and teachings are being defiled. This is far worst then the booing at His memorial.
He called for South Africans to unite - not blacks against whites (and others)
He . .more

by South African Liberal on January 10 2014, 23:07
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Ignorance our enemy
The sad fact about black Africans is that the only thing that unites them, is their animosity against the whites who they wrongly perceive as their enemy. They have been incorrectly brainwashed to regard the "white capitalistic system" as the reason for . .more

by Wizard on January 11 2014, 06:22
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Numas's socialism in about a hundreds years out of date
This is very sad. Of course Numsa are right about the EFF. So far so good.

But their idea of socialism is unchanged ideas current a century ago. This is farcical. But its also very sad. We desperately need a progressive alternative to Zuma and . .more

by Simon on January 11 2014, 09:01
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Numsa offers a counter-Stalinism to that of the SACP
The Numsa version is not hitched to nationalism, like the SACP. But its still the Old Left with all its clunkiness, authoritarianism, belief in fairy tales etc.

We need a democratic and modern left. William Gumede hit the nail on the head.

by Ben on January 11 2014, 14:21
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For once in my life I agree with Domza
Sankara chose the cheapest car available and insisted that his cabinet did the same.

Malema couldn't be more different to Sankara.

See Gill Hart's new book for more on this. She sees Malema as a fascist.

by MN on January 11 2014, 14:36
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Communism by any other name
"Malema and Shivambu were plagued by allegaitons of undemocratic practices"... "Democracy" and "communism" are completely opposite practices. There is nothing democratic or workable about communism for heaven's sake! Since when has communism or any of . .more

by Bien pensant on January 12 2014, 18:20
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Old left v fake left
NUMSA are Stalinists. Sincere Stalinists but Stalinists nonetheless.

EEF are a bunch of crooks and thugs cynically using the language of the left to try and get back some power.

WASP et al are irrelevent Trotskyist sects that will . .more

by Imo on January 13 2014, 09:34
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Democracy has to be internalised to be relevant
The above assesment is correct. Working class power infers mobilising all aspects of class formations under the leadership of the working class themselves in order to strive for worker control of the means of production and distribution and socialise it . .more

by Selome Kerapelamang on January 13 2014, 15:11
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Good analysis by Numsa
Numsa has a good critical analysis on the table, even before we have seen the true colours of Malema Party, allready we are sentimentally attached. Perhaps in could be an expression of frustration with the ruling its corrupt tendencies and cadre . .more

by Sithembele on January 15 2014, 14:57
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EFF are a joke
Just like other jokes like Cope,EFF

have outdone themselves in this comedy category you sit and imagine..Julius Malema as a South African president?

by MichaelMyers on January 15 2014, 16:01
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ANC will rule for ever
Julius Malema can not be trusted, the man is only concerned about himself. When he was in the ANC he only enriched himself. And when he was asked how he accumulated his wealth, he response was tht "its none of your business" now tht he can no longer steal . .more

by Viwe on January 20 2014, 08:45
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most of the south african left is a joke
We willl never have a popular and effective left here. To much dogmatism, thuggery, sectariaism an in some cases straight up madness in the left here.

by Jake on January 03 2015, 17:37
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