Firebrand Malema fights for land revolution in South Africa
The leader of South Africa’s radical opposition EFF party has vowed that his supporters will increasingly seize unoccupied land to put pressure on the government to redistribute land to black people.
Julius Malema, head of the anti-capitalist Economic Freedom Fighters party, warned that poor, young South Africans felt abandoned by the country’s post-apartheid politics since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.
Land reform has become the country’s fiercest battleground ahead of elections next year, when President Cyril Ramaphosa will try to revive fading support for the ruling ANC party.
“It’s a completely new generation running out of patience,” Malema told AFP in an interview at the downtown Johannesburg headquarters of the EFF, which he founded in 2013 after being ejected from the ANC.
“The EFF came at the right time because it was able to amass all this energy into a party to agitate for economic struggle,” he said.
The EFF won just over eight percent in the 2016 local elections, and hopes to make a major breakthrough in the 2019 general election by tapping into frustration among millions of young and poor South Africans.
“The EFF said to our people — the most practical way to get the land is to occupy the unoccupied land to put pressure on the state, and it has worked,” Malema said.
“Now the state and the owners of the land are beginning to say ‘maybe we should do something'”.
Unemployment nationwide is about 28 percent, with youth unemployment topping 50 percent in some areas.
Malema, 37, is renowned for his fiery speeches and attacks on whites as he builds a growing support base among South Africa’s poor.
But his party’s flagship stance of demanding radical land reform has been overshadowed by Ramaphosa’s recent announcement that the constitution would be changed to explicitly allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.
Sharing the land?
The government’s policy spooked foreign investors — and threatened to steal the EFF’s thunder.
“Cyril says this today and says something else tomorrow, depending on where he is speaking,” Malema said, describing Ramaphosa’s new land redistribution policy as “fake”.
“We say the same thing all the time, and they keep on changing.
“The EFF is the only relevant party in South Africa today — we are the most influential political party through ideas…”
1 Timothy 5:18
For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
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