Former leader of the radical South African left, Julius Malema, was unsurprisingly reappointed on Saturday night at the head of his party, the Combatants for Economic Freedom (EFF), meeting in Congress in Johannesburg.
“For the position of president, it is Mr. Julius Malema,” Terry Tselane, a private company official in charge of organizing the election, told the 3,000 party delegates.
Aged 38, Mr. Malema founded the EFF in 2013 after his ouster from the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
We represent the poor and oppressed here.
Still wearing his red beret as “commander in chief” of the movement, he presents himself as the defender of the poorest and advocates the redistribution of wealth for the benefit of the country’s black majority, whose situation has improved little a quarter of a century after the fall of apartheid.
His anti-capitalist and willingly anti-White rhetoric, particularly in favour of expropriation without compensation of land held in majority by the white minority, has led to multiple lawsuits.
In last May’s general elections, the EFF won nearly 11% of the vote, a significant increase over the previous election, and increased the number of its members in the Cape Town Parliament from 25 to 44.
“We represent the poor and oppressed here,” Julius Malema reaffirmed on Saturday by opening his party’s congress.
“The scars of colonialism and apartheid are still there. The failure to change the property structures in our economy and return the land to our people has resulted in our people having political rights, but no economic freedom,” he said to applause.
The EFF congress – the second in its young history – is disrupted by a controversy arising from its refusal to accredit several local media, including the online news website Daily Maverick, which published several articles accusing party leaders of embezzlement.
“No other party in post-apartheid South Africa has been considered as much of an enemy of society as the EFF,” Malema lamented in the gallery, denying the corruption charges as “a storm in a glass of water.
In solidarity with the banned media, the news channel eNCA has decided to suspend its coverage of the congress.
“Good riddance,” the EFF reacted in a statement.