EFF Turns 9: 5 Most Memorable Times the EFF Protested for Change in South Africa

EFF Turns 9: 5 Most Memorable Times the EFF Protested for Change in South Africa

On 26 July 2014, Julius Malema, along with former members of the African National Congress, formed the Economic Freedom Fighters. The party has been able to grow in numbers over years and despite being a small party, the EFF has left a mark.

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Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema
Julius Malema formed the Economic Freedom Fighters after he was booted out of the ANC in 2012. Images: Phill Magakoe & Rajesh Jantital
Source: Getty Images

EFF commander-in-chief Julius Malema was kicked out of the ruling party after he was found guilty of committing three offences, which included fomenting divisions and bringing the party into disrepute in 2012.

At the time, the ANC believed that Malema's behaviour could not be rehabilitated and upheld their verdict against him even after appeal. Malema went down with the current EFF deputy, Floyd Shivambu.

Since the formation of the EFF, the party has been very vocal about several issues affecting South Africans and has even led protests that have brought about change. Briefly News takes a look at some of the most memorable protests that were led by the EFF.

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1. EFF starts a campaign against former President Jacob Zuma

Malema had been advocating for the removal of former President Jacob Zuma since his time at the ANC. According to the BBC, the EFF leader had always been adamant that he was kicked out of the party because he wanted the ANC to replace Zuma as the leader.

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Malema's campaign against Zuma started in 2014 when the EFF managed to garner enough votes to join the National Assembly. Malema was able to organise one of the biggest protests against Zuma in 2016, which saw thousands of EFF members shut down Pretoria.

The EFF's campaign against Zuma continued till the day he resigned on 14 February 2018. The EFF's campaign was supported by millions of South Africans who were tired of Zuma's leadership.

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Civil society groups and political organisations came together with one voice to speak against Zuma and demand change.

2. EFF protests for Covid-19 vaccines

The Covid-19 pandemic raised a lot of tensions in South Africa. The Economic Freedom Fighters were not happy with the government's slow rollout of vaccines. The party decided to protest to pressure the South African Health Products Regulatory Agency( SAHPRA) to approve Covid-19 vaccines manufactured by China and Russia.

The march took place on 25 June 2021 and EFF members came out in their numbers in Tshwane. The Red Berets leader alleged that President Cyril Ramaphosa did not care about the rest of the country because he was vaccinated while millions of South Africans were still awaiting their turn for the jab.

At the time, Saphra CEO Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela told News24 that the agency would not be pressured to approve vaccines that have not been thoroughly tested. Semete-Makokotlela explained that giving into the EFF's demand would send a message to the public and the medical community that the agency is not trustworthy.

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Saphra ended up rejecting the Sputnik V vaccine, which was manufactured by Russia, but approved the Chinese-made vaccine Sinovac for emergency use for people between the ages of 18 and 59, reports Global Times.

3. EFF protests to have stadiums reopened

In January 2022, the EFF made the call to the government to open up stadiums for all South Africans, whether vaccinated or not. Malema led a protest at the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthwetwa's offices to submit a memorandum.

Not only did Malema and his organisation want South Africans to enjoy sports at stadiums again, but the EFF also stated that wearing a mask should no longer be a requirement, according to TimesLIVE.

At the time, Mthethwa was adamant that stadiums would not reopen despite pressure amounting from political organisations. According to IOL, Mthethwa stated that before reopening stadiums, the government needed to be guided by a variety of systems thinking analyses.

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In March, Ramaphosa announced that stadiums could be partially reopened at 50% capacity.

4. EFF marches to restaurants to demand South Africans are hired over foreign nationals

Malema is known for tackling issues head-on and in January 2022, the EFF leader went down to restaurants to advocate for the hiring of South African citizens over foreign nationals.

Malema also stated that his visit was to also ensure that foreign nationals are not being exploited by restaurant owners.

Malema stated that he wanted restaurants to hire 60% South African staff, stating that he was doing inspections to ensure that business owners were being compliant. The EFF's march prompted a response from the Department of Employment and Labour.

The department condemned the EFF's actions and stated that the party overstepped. However, the department was able to admit that it had not been carrying out inspections as it was supposed to because they do not have the resources.

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5. EFF protests against racism

The EFF is known to take a strong stance against racism in South Africa. If there is a whisper of racism at a school, business or suburb, the Red Berets will be there to picket against injustice.

In June 2021, the EFF marched to a Cape Town suburb in Tokai after allegations that a fruit tree was poisoned. The party felt the poisoning of the tree was racially motivated because black and coloured children are known to pick from the tree, according to News24.

The party also protested in Phoenix, where 36 people were killed in what was deemed to be an act of vigilantism during the July riots. There were also allegations that the killings were racially motivated.

The EFF has even protested outside schools such as Grosvenor Girls High School in Durban and Uitsig High School in Pretoria, where a pupil was manhandled by security for wearing EFF regalia, reports IOL.

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The Red Berets even went down to the Huis Herfsblaar old-age home.in Pretoria after allegations of racism were reported to protest for better treatment of workers.

EFF's Julius Malema appears on MacG's 'Podcast and Chill', says Mzansi has the government it deserves

Briefly News previously reported that Julius Malema, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader, appeared on the controversial YouTube show Podcast and Chill on Monday, 18 July.

The party leader addressed several topics ranging from his marriage, his political career and the EFF being around for close to a decade. Malema even boldly asserted that in a few years, he would become the president of South Africa.

Malema also spoke out about how he started his political career at a young age. Speaking to MacG, the Red Berets leader said when he was in Grade 8, he was appointed to the Student Representative Council. He then led his first strike, which lasted for six months.

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