As the Economic Freedom Fighters celebrated turning double-digits, their party president did not hold back in his criticism of the ruling party during their birthday celebrations. Wits Vuvuzela’s Seth Thorne and Sbongile Molambo were there to watch it all unfold.

“It is not a matter of if, but when we are in government next year” (and variations thereof) were the utterances most echoed by the EFF party leadership on Saturday, July 29 at FNB Stadium in Soweto. 

Over 100 000 EFF supporters from across the country traveled in over 1 000 buses, painting the stadium red as the EFF celebrated their 10th anniversary. 

Aesthetically, the event was nothing short of a spectacle. The black stage on the pitch was adorned with massive screens, flowers, balloons and later in the day, fireworks, champagne and a birthday cake.  

The invitation to the celebration extended beyond EFF members, with traditional leaders, artists and leaders of other political parties present on stage. These party leaders included Bantu Holomisa of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), who called on “opposition parties to unite as the ANC has “eaten the country’s money.” Others on stage included Vuyolwethu Zungula of the African Transformation Movement, Azapo and the Pan Africanist Congress. 

Born out of need 

EFF president Julius Malema’s speech began with the formation of the organisation, describing it as the directive of the community of Marikana following the 2012 massacre. “We listened to the people of Marikana and formed a party,” he said.  

Malema called the ANC an “organisation of murderers”, who killed miners in “defense of capital” on that fateful day. Malema said president Cyril Ramaphosa belongs “in prison” for the massacre and the Phala Phala scandal.  

Malema also made the friends and foes of the EFF aware that if “you are a supporter of a progressive agenda, you are a friend of the EFF”.  

In their various ‘happy birthday’ messages, the speakers, including Holomisa and Zungula, all alluded to how the formation of the EFF has changed the political landscape of the country. 

Looking to 2024 

The keynote speech was laden with electioneering talk, as Malema called for land expropriation without compensation, the nationalisation of mines, banks, and other strategic sectors of the economy.  

Commenting on crime and corruption in the country, Malema called on the “ground forces [to] go reclaim the streets against criminals.”  

Despite being in multiple coalitions with the ANC, he said the party is “corrupt” and should not be trusted with power, as it “has failed to emancipate its people,” he said. “Unlike the ANC, [the EFF do not] bribe voters” but rather attracts people “wanting freedom in their lifetime”. 

Malema also criticised the Nasi iSpani programme, led by Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi. He claimed that applicants were not properly vetted and as such would lose their jobs in no time. He also claimed that the programme is an attempt to bribe votes out of young people.  

Various party leaders called for a collective effort to unseat the ANC next year, especially though coalitions. “There is no future in this country if we do not work together… if we do not unite we will not win as the opposition parties next year,” said Zungula.  

Mihlali Tyebisa from Wits’ EFF student command said that “the event was mind-blowing for many; it was a clear demonstration of what is to come.”  

FEATURED IMAGE: Julius Malema ends his speech with a bang as he is lifted into the air, with confetti and smoke machines going off on Saturday, July 29, as proceedings come to an end. Photo: Seth Thorne