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Economic Freedom Fighters

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Economic Freedom Fighters
President & Commander in ChiefJulius Malema
Deputy PresidentFloyd Shivambu
ChairpersonDali Mpofu
Secretary-GeneralGodrich Gardee
SpokespersonMbuyiseni Ndlozi
FounderJulius Malema
Founded26 July 2013 (2013-07-26)
Split fromAfrican National Congress
Student wingEconomic Freedom Fighters Students' Command (EFFSC)
Political positionFar-left[8][9][10][11][12][13]
International affiliationNone
Slogan"People’s Power for Economic Freedom in Our Lifetime"
National Assembly
25 / 400
National Council of Provinces
7 / 90
Pan-African Parliament
1 / 5
Provincial Legislatures
30 / 430
City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality (council)
30 / 270
Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality (council)
6 / 120
City of Cape Town (council)
7 / 231

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is a South African far-left political party. It was started by expelled former African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) President Julius Malema, and his allies, in 2013.[15] Malema is President of the EFF, heading the Central Command Team which serves as the central structure of the party.[16]

It is currently the third-largest party in both houses of the South African Parliament, receiving 1,169,259 votes and a 6.35% share of the vote in the 2014 general election. By December 2014, the EFF claimed to have over half a million members, although this has not been independently verified.[citation needed]


At a 26 July 2013 press briefing in Soweto, Malema announced that the new party had over 1000 members, double the 500 required for registration with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).[17] The EFF is now registered with the IEC, after an objection to its registration by the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) was dismissed in September 2013.[18]

Splinters and infighting[edit]

In 2015, the EFF suspended MP Lucky Twala and expelled three MPs, Mpho Ramakatsa, Andile Mngxitama and Khanyisile Litchfield-Tshabalala.[19] Mngxitama formed his own party, named Black First Land First (BLF), while Litchfield-Tshabalala joined the United Democratic Movement.


A small march by the EFF on Mandela Day (18 July) 2014 near the parliament building in Cape Town protesting in support of land reform in South Africa.

The EFF "draws 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", according to one of its declarations.[20]

It criticises the African National Congress and their primary opposition, the Democratic Alliance, for their allegedly pro-business stances, which it claims have sold out the black people of South Africa to capitalism as cheap labour. It promises to tackle corruption, provide quality social housing, and provide free primary healthcare and education for all, as well as proposing to expropriate stolen land, nationalise the mining and banking sectors, double welfare grants and the minimum wage, and end the proposed toll system for highways.[21]

The EFF takes significant inspiration from Thomas Sankara in terms of both style and ideology.[22] In a May 2014 column, the prominent EFF member Jackie Shandu declared his party a "proudly Sankarist formation".[23]

The EFF has been vocal in its criticism of black business owners and black owners of mining companies in South Africa. In an address at the Oxford Union in November 2015, Malema spoke out against billionaire mining company owner Patrice Motsepe.[24][25] Further protests in 2015, the EFF delivered demands that included the socialization of the mining sector and called for more explicit targets for the 26% BEE ownership required by law.[26]

Malema addressed a crowd in Marikana, Rustenburg in the platinum mining area, blaming mining companies and calling out platinum mining company Lonmin in particular, for poverty in the region.[27]

The party supports the re-introduction of the death penalty.[28][29]

In 2016, after local elections in South Africa, the EFF has suggested that they will back the Democratic Alliance in hung-metro areas, but would not be entering into a coalition with any political party in South Africa.[30]

The EFF was the only parliamentary party that opposed the 2018 political party funding bill.[31]

High-profile members[edit]

High-profile members of the Central Command Team include Floyd Shivambu, Fana Mokoena and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (National Spokesperson).[32] Controversial businessman Kenny Kunene joined the Central Command Team in July 2013 before resigning from the Central Command Team on 20 August 2013 and from the organisation on 26 August 2013.[33][34] On 4 November 2013, it was announced that Dali Mpofu had left the African National Congress (ANC) after 33 years of membership and joined the EFF.[35]

Support base[edit]

According to a November 2013 Ipsos survey, the party's supporters are younger than average, with 49% being younger than 24, overwhelmingly black (99%) and mostly male, with women representing only 33% of the support base. A disproportionate number of supporters live in Malema's home province of Limpopo (28%), while only 1% live in KwaZulu-Natal, a more populous province.[36]

The party was expected to make an impact in the 2014 general election, taking between 4 per cent and 8 per cent of the national vote. This was potentially enough for the party to hold the balance of power in provinces where the governing African National Congress was in danger of losing its absolute majority.[21] In fact, the ANC retained its absolute majority, but the EFF moved into third place, surging past the shrinking Inkatha Freedom Party, with a 6.35% share of the vote to the IFP's 2.40%.

Election results[edit]

National elections[edit]

National Assembly[edit]

Election Total votes Share of vote Seats +/– Government
2014[37] 1,169,259 6.35
25 / 400
Increase 25 in opposition

National Council of Provinces[edit]

Election Total # of
seats won
7 / 90
Increase 7

Municipal elections[edit]

Election Votes %
2016[38] 3,202,679 8.31%

Provincial elections[edit]

Election Eastern Cape Free State Gauteng Kwazulu-Natal Limpopo Mpumalanga North-West Northern Cape Western Cape
% Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats
2014[37] 3.48% 2/63 8.15% 2/30 10.30% 8/73 1.85% 2/80 10.74% 6/49 6.26% 2/30 13.21% 5/33 4.96% 2/30 2.11% 1/42


On 6 August 2015 the EFF announced that it has secured a Constitutional court case for its Jacob Zuma campaign of "#PayBackTheMoney". The case was heard on the 9 February 2016. The Judgement was released by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. The judgement stated that The President has violated the Constitution of South Africa, along with the Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete. The President was given 60 days to fulfill the requirements of the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.[39]

On 27 February 2018 the EFF tabled a motion in The National Assembly to amend the Constitution so as to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation. The motion, brought by the EFF leader Julius Malema, was adopted with a vote of 241 in support, and 83 against. The only parties who did not support the motion were the Democratic Alliance, Freedom Front Plus, Cope and the ACDP. Land Expropriation is one of the EFF's Seven cardinal pillars.[40]

In 2018, the student wing of the EFF, the EFF Student Command won many universities across the country. The red berets defeated the ANC-aligned South African Students Congress (Sasco) at the Durban University of Technology, the University of Zululand and Mangosuthu University of Technology. They also won in Cape Town, the District Six, Mowbray and Bellville Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) campuses with landslide victories, meaning they now are in charge of the institution's SRC. They also won the University of Cape Town. Peter Keetse, president of the EFFSC, said the win was a warning shot for what was going to happen in 2019 national general elections. He said the youth were the influencers of the future, “therefore, this is an indication of what is to follow”.[41]

Criticisms and controversies[edit]

The ANC has accused the Zimbabwean ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF), of supporting the EFF in order to destabilise the ANC.[42]


Feminists and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa have criticised the party's militarism and "military command structure".[43][44]

In mid-June 2016 a group calling themselves "Anonymous Africa", claiming to be associated with the hacktivist group Anonymous, perpetrated a DDoS attack on the EFF's website stating the reason for the attack was the party's "nationalist socialist rhetoric".[45] The South African Communist Party also condemns this party.[46]

Violence and bigotry[edit]

Vusi Khoza, the party's candidate for Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, has a criminal conviction for his involvement in what was believed to be a xenophobic attack on foreigners at Albert Park, Durban in December 2009.[47]

Feminists have characterised leading members of the party as misogynist.[48][49][50][51]

The EFF is widely criticised for inciting and perpetuating racism.[52][45][53] South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission disqualified an EFF councillor in the 2016 local elections due to racism.[54]

In February, 2016, during violent university protests characterised by arson and vandalism, EFF Youth leader Omphile Seleke posted instructions for making petrol bombs on social media.[55]

Malema stated at a political rally in 2016 that “We [the EFF] are not calling for the slaughter of white people‚ at least for now". When asked for comment by a news agency, the ANC spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa stated that there will be no comment from the ANC, as "[h]e [Malema] was addressing his own party supporters."[56] While still the ANCYL leader, Malema was taken to the Equality Court by AfriForum for repeatedly singing “dubul’ ibhunu”, which translate as “shoot the boer [white farmer]”. The ANC supported Malema, though AfriForum and the ANC reached a settlement before the appeal case was due to be argued in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

In January 2018, EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu congratulated the Fighters for causing damage to various H&M stores[57] across South Africa due to a picture of a young Black child wearing a green hoodie reading, "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle."[58][59][60][61][62][63][64][65]

Julius Malema leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters stated at a political rally in 2018 that "Go After A White Man... We Are Cutting The Throat Of Whiteness"[66][67] This led to the Democratic Alliance accusing the EFF's leader, Malema, of racism and not sharing the more tolerant views of South Africans broadly.[68]


In October 2018 a group of 17 former EFF members and councillors in the Northern Cape accused the party's senior leadership of corruption and sexual exploitation of more junior female party members.[69]

Following the publication of a South African Reserve Bank report[70] into the collapse of VBS Mutual Bank implicating EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu's brother media reports came out alleging that the EFF received R1.3 million and Shivambu R10 million in illicit payments from VBS prior to it placed under curatorship in March 2018.[71][72] Prior to the publication of the Reserve Bank's report the EFF criticised the Reserve Bank for placing VBS under curatorship and accused it of victimising VBS on racial grounds.[73] The EFF stated that it had seen no evidence that Shivambu received the R10 million[74] and called for government to recapitalise VBS Mutual Bank[75] whilst also taking legal action against those mentioned in the Reserve Bank report.[76]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]