The former head of the youth wing of South Africa’s governing African Nation Congress is set to launch his new party in Marikana where police last year killed 34 striking miners demanding a pay rise.
Julius Malema, who was expelled from the ANC for bringing the party into disrepute, told South African media he wanted to become the country’s next president under the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party.
He said he would not be satisfied with a seat in parliament.
Malema, 32, said he picked on Marikana as the venue for the party’s launch on Sunday because the slain miners were economic freedom fighters, according to South Africa’s City Press newspaper.
City Press quoted him as saying he had learned his electioneering tactics while he served as head of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL).
“When we were campaigning for Zuma, as the ANCYL which I led, we made South African politics fashionable. We are going to use the same strategy to garner support for the EFF,” he said.
Death penalty issue
City Press said Malema, who was in Marikana on the eve of the party launch, hinted at restoring the death penalty if South Africans voted on the issue in a referendum.
“When we win the elections next year, we will hold a referendum on the death penalty and, if the people want it back, so be it.
“And we will not be apologetic about hanging or castrating men who rape the elderlies and children [sic].
“Though crime is largely caused by unemployment, poverty and inequality, rape is caused by uncontrollable libido,” he said, referring to South Africa’s widespread sexual violence.
Police in the North West province, where Marikana is located, warned people attending the launch not to carry dangerous weapons, according to media reports.
Security forces last year opened fire on striking workers at a platinum mine in Marikana, killing 34 miners in a crackdown reminiscent of the apartheid-era police brutality.
The government has since instituted a commission of inquiry to investigate the fatal shootings which were preceded by an attack in which police officers were allegedly killed by miners.
Malema on Saturday slaughtered the first ox before the launch of the EFF, City Press reported.
Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, an EFF spokesperson, said there was nothing special about the number of eight cows slaughtered.
“This is the number of cattle we have, there is nothing special about it.”
Once an outspoken supporter of President Jacob Zuma, Malema was expelled after the ANC disciplinary committee found him guilty of provoking divisions in the party and tarnishing its image.
A fiery speaker raised by a single mother, Malema has campaigned for the nationalisation of South Africa’s mines and praised Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, for seizing land from white farmers.
The ANC, in power since 1994 when apartheid ended after Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa’s first black president, has dominated the political scene with no serious challengers.
Malema’s EFF would attract many poor black South Africans disenchanted with the ANC, but may struggle to unseat the party, which has solid support in most of the country’s nine provinces.
The EFF, which has some colours similar to those of the ANC – green and yellow – has promised free quality education, healthcare, houses and sanitation.###Aljezara