LONDON – If the Economic Freedom Fighters has a real chance of winning the 2019 elections foreign investors should really be worried. In their manifesto launched this weekend, they pledged to nationalise all land, banks and mines and even though all investment could dry up, the EFF will find the money “to double welfare payouts”. This is however unlikely to become national policy as the latest Ipsos poll puts its support on only about 9%. Judging from Malema’s manifesto launch speech, the firebrand leader of the EFF will keep Twitter amused during the election campaign, this quote comes to mind, “That thief called Zuma must be arrested and taken to jail. Thereafter we going to go to Mantashe. Thereafter we will go for Nomvula Mokonyane, who was eating stolen frozen chicken. We are going for them one by one”. The EFF is also hoping that there will not be an outright winner in the 2019 elections, but Malema could become the “king-maker”. He knows he can’t win but is hoping that the ANC will not get a majority and that he will manage to attract enough votes to influence the balance of power or as the EFF’s Hlophe-Maxon put it “the ANC, the Democratic Alliance and all other parties will have to come to the EFF if they want to form a coalition government.” – Linda van Tilburg
“No one is going to win an outright majority in this election,” Hlengiwe Hlophe-Maxon, the EFF’s deputy secretary-general, said as the party unveiled its manifesto on Saturday in Shoshanguve, a township near Pretoria. “We are going to be a deciding factor in South Africa going forward after these elections.”
The ANC is set to win about 60% of the vote in parliamentary elections expected to take place in May, followed by the opposition Democratic Alliance with 22% and the EFF on 10%, according to a survey carried out by the South African Institute of Race Relations from Nov. 26-Dec. 4.
In a stadium filled to capacity with at least 18,000 supporters, the EFF pledged Saturday to place all land under the custodianship of the state and to nationalise mines and banks without compensation. The party also wants to double the country’s R150bn ($11.3bn) welfare program.
“They stole our land so we cannot pay them for it,” EFF president Julius Malema told supporters. “We cannot postpone the land question. It must happen now. We are hungry now and we want to eat now.”
The EFF, known for its abrasive politics and brawling tactics in parliament, was established in 2013 by Malema, the 37-year-old former leader of the ANC’s youth wing. The party positioned itself as king-maker in the 2016 local government elections, forming coalitions that shifted power away from the ANC in Pretoria and in the country’s economic hub, Johannesburg. The EFF now wants to do the same in the highly contested Gauteng and North West provinces.
“The ANC, the Democratic Alliance and all other parties will have to come to the EFF if they want to form a coalition government,” Hlophe-Maxon said.
The party became the second-largest opposition force in its maiden election five years ago, with its policies resonating among black township residents whose standard of living has improved little since the end of apartheid. It won 6 percent of the vote in the last national elections, held in 2014, and has recently suffered a series of scandals that have dented its reputation as a voice of the poor.