Malema Tones Down On Immigration Policy, Vows To Take Over From Ramaphosa

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema took a public oath days before the May 29 general elections, declaring his allegiance to the South African Constitution, promising to eradicate poverty and toning down on his immigration policy to allay the fears of concerned voters.

Malema’s oath was taken at the party’s final pre-election rally, known as “Tshela Thupa”, at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, Limpopo, over the weekend. Tshela Thupa rally, a victory lap event that loosely means “whip the rivals,” marked the  EFF’s third attempt at dislodging the governing African National Congress (ANC) since the party’s maiden national and provincial elections in 2014. The rally occurred on the same day President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the ANC’s final pre-election gathering, Siyanqoba, at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. It was Malema’s last card in his attempt to topple Ramaphosa.  

“I declare in front of all of you here, and in front of all the progressive forces of South Africa, Africa, and the world, that I will do everything in my power to bring about economic freedom and common prosperity in our lifetime.

“I commit that when I’m president and head of state of South Africa, I will not be involved in any wrongdoing and corruption. I will protect our natural resources and I will grow our economy to create millions of jobs for all our people… I commit to be loyal to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa,” said Malema, who told his supporters they should come to the Union Buildings, the government’s nerve centre, after the polls to meet him as the new president.

Notably, Malema toned down on his “open border” policy for the first time, for which the party has largely come under fire, especially in the past five years. 

This was a stance the EFF vowed never to compromise on but widely marked by analysts as an “Achilles Heel” in their quest to turn their electoral fortunes and also unseat the ANC.

According to the EFF, Africans from other nations were being illogically demonized as stealing jobs. At the same time, foreign nationals of different skin colours were treated like tourists, even when they were in the country illegally.

“Don’t go around listening to people who are suffering from scare-mongering. They are saying, ‘If Malema takes over, all the Zimbabweans will flood the country.’ I am not fighting against Zimbabweans, but I’m saying that when they come here, we want their documents. They must come with their documents. Those who have no documents, we will arrange for them to have those documents, so that we know who they are when they are in South Africa,” Malema told the party’s faithful, to loud cheers.

Independent analyst Goodenough Mashego said Malema’s toning down on open borders was a sign that his educational campaign for love amongst Africans did not achieve the desired result.

“Malema has been dishing out pan-Africanist education that explains Africa before colonial boundaries. This is a pan-Africanist education that explains the nomadic nature of Africans in search of resources and other opportunities. That education part of getting South Africans to understand why open borders as a policy will not be foreign to South Africa has not been explained to say that before 1885, people moved around freely, and that’s why Malema has been preaching it. He is not saying, ‘bring down the borders;’ he is saying, ‘stop recognizing the borders and allow people free movement,’” said Mashego. 

“Malema now realizes that most South Africans have been brainwashed so much by white people to believe that if you open the border, there is going to be a movement of north-south versus a south-north movement because they believe that no South African will trek to Namibia or Zimbabwe to search for opportunities. He realizes that in this current political climate, you can’t talk about the creation of jobs and still talk about open borders. People don’t complain about open borders as a concept but complain about it if it results in their loss of jobs that go to foreign nationals,” he added.

Mashego said Malema had to emphasize the issue of documentation to assure South African voters that no illegal immigrants would be taking their jobs.

“He toned down because you can’t talk the message of creating employment when you can’t audit how many South Africans are unemployed by virtue of so many foreign nationals in South Africa right now. Some of them have relatives in the country and speak the languages spoken here,” Mashego said.

Malema, the leader of South Africa’s third-largest party, also criticized the ANC-led government for claiming to have dealt with load shedding. He accused Ramaphosa’s government of trying to fool citizens into believing that power cuts were a thing of the past.

Malema promised that the EFF government would approach BRICS member countries such as China and Russia for permanent power generation and skills transfer.

“Vote for electricity on the 29th of May. Please make sure you vote against load shedding. The EFF will never close coal stations. The people of Mpumalanga, and the Waterberg-Lephalale region here in Limpopo must never be worried about their jobs and livelihoods. They are safe under the EFF government.

An EFF Motorcade drives around the Peter Mokaba Stadium during the ‘Tshela Thupa’ rally in Polokwane, Limpopo. Photo: EFF

“The EFF government will first work with nations with skills and expertise in energy to enter into, build, operate, and transfer under agreements, where coal and nuclear power stations will be built for purpose and handed over. We are going to speak to China, Russia, and all progressive forces to come and build power stations in South Africa. They can build them and operate them, but after 30 years, they must hand them over to the state of South Africa and exist. That is the only way we are going to guarantee electricity supply,” Malema said.

He added that a state-owned mining company would be established to manage coal mines that supply Eskom. In closing his fiery speech, Malema implored his fellow fighters to continue to mobilize their friends, neighbours, and relatives to vote for the EFF on Wednesday, May 29. 

“For these remaining days, we should all intensify the work. No one should leave here and say, ‘We are done, our rally was successful; we have already won the elections.’ We have not won the elections. We are starting now. We start from here. We are marching straight to Pretoria to take over the Union Buildings,” said Malema.



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