SA: Malema’s party promises jobs, land ahead of election

SA: Malema’s party promises jobs, land ahead of election

By Associated Press

DURBAN: The controversial leader of South Africa’s third largest political party promised Saturday to create jobs for millions of the country’s unemployed and turn around its economy as he seeks to attract voters ahead of a much anticipated general election.

Economic Freedom Fighters party founder Julius Malema addressed a packed 56,000-capacity Moses Mabhida Stadium in the coastal city of Durban as he launched the party’s election manifesto to the delight of supporters.

“This is not a manifesto of promises, it’s a manifesto of commitments,” he said.

With election season well underway in South Africa, most political parties who have not launched their manifestos are expected to do so in the coming weeks. A date for the election has not been announced.

The election is expected to be highly contested because the ruling African National Congress, which has governed the country since Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically-elected leader in 1994, faces myriad challenges.

EFF party supporters Saturday clad in red party regalia, including T-shirts with Malema’s likeness, went into a frenzy as he entered the stadium, singing struggle songs and liberation slogans.

The EFF is popular among many disenchanted South Africans, especially youth, due to its radical policies that include the expropriation of white-owned land and the nationalization of mines and banks.

Malema, a controversial figure who largely divides opinion for his radical proposals to solve the country’s problems, continues to enjoy widening popularity in South Africa and increasingly across Africa.

A former ANC youth leader who was expelled from the party, Malema is now among the ruling party’s staunchest critics. He’s an outspoken lawmaker who has become a thorn in the side of the ANC and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The EFF garnered 10% of the national vote in the country’s 2019 elections to become the third largest opposition party.

Buoyed by the decline in support for the ANC, which has governed South Africa since 1994, the party expects to increase its support in the upcoming elections.

Recent polls by polling firm Ipsos released this week estimated the EFF could perform better in the upcoming polls and replace the Democratic Alliance as the second biggest party in the country.

The same polls also suggest the ANC may dip under 50% of electoral support in what is expected to be the ruling party’s toughest elections yet.

Malema announced the party’s slogan for the coming elections as “Jobs and land now! Stop loadshedding,” a phrase that alludes to the country’s high unemployment rate of more than 30%, the slow pace of land redistribution and the country’s electricity crisis, which has resulted in rolling power blackouts.

“This manifesto is a manifesto of the people swimming in the pool of poverty,” said Malema.

Malema said the party would stop the power blackouts that are impacting the country’s economy and would create jobs through, among other things, the creation of social housing and road infrastructure.

He also promised to jail politicians and public servants who are implicated in corruption and vowed to introduce incentives for police to fight the country’s high prevalence of crime.