According to the EFF’s publication ‘The Coming Revolution’, Julius Malema had earned the title of Commander-in Chief of the Economic Freedom Fighters when he was still the president of the ANC Youth League as the struggle for economic freedom does not possess organisational boundaries and confines. Malema’s term as ANC Youth League president was embroiled in controversy, on 29 February 2012, his public statements had gotten him suspended from the African National Congress(ANC) for 5 years. Malema was found guilty by the ANC’s National Disciplinary Committee (NDC) of sowing divisions within the ANC. ANC Youth League spokesperson, Floyed Shivambu and ANC Youth League general secretary, Sindiso Magaqa were also suspended from the ANC for 3 years.
Since their expulsion, Malema and Shivambu set out to continue their fight for economic freedom. They believed the ANC had mistreated them because they had publically and internally observed the ‘directionlessness’ of government on domestic and international policy options since 2009. Malema had championed an ANC Youth League of the past, one that had ideologically and politically been at the forefront of working class struggles. In February 2010, the ANC Youth League had produced a document on the nationalisation of mines. On various platforms, the ANC Youth league announced that they would only support leaders for re-election at the ANC’s 53rd National Conference, held in Mangaung, Free State Province in December 2012, if they supported economic freedom, specifically the clarion call of nationalisation of mines, banks and other strategic sectors of the economy.
Even though Malema’s position of ANC Youth League president had been revoked, the reality that he was at the forefront of the struggles for the emancipation of many South Africans remained unchanged. Malema and Shivambu felt they had been deprived of the opportunity to revolutionise the ANC as the founding fathers had, and thus took the decision to mobilise society outside the ANC and continue their role of economic freedom fighters.
Their agenda and support base received a boost at Marikana. The Mine workers called on Malema to join their struggle and strikes across the country. After the Marikana Massacre,Shivambu, Magaqa, and Anda Bici met with mineworkers and later organised legal representation lead by Dali Mpofu. Many mineworkers blamed the ANC for what had transpired, and turned to Malema, who had always championed their cause.
A clarion call to Economic Freedom fighters and all South Africans to stand up and be counted was issued on 11 June 2013. The Clarion Call constituted an analysis of the political balance of forces and provided three routes for the radical program of economic freedom. The options presented were to either become a non-governmental organisation, a platform, or a political party which contested power.
On 27 July 2013, the EFF National Assembly convened at Uncle Tom’s Hall in Orlando West, Soweto. Among those in attendance were 1,200 delegates from all nine provinces, and a delegation of former mineworkers from the Eastern Cape and mineworkers from Marikana led by Xolani Nzuza. Discussions ranged over the organisation’s ideological outlook, and the launch of the EFF as a political party took place. The 1,200 delegates in attendance joined the EFF and adopted the constitution and the founding manifesto. The EFF had more than double the 500 members required for registration with the Independent Electoral Commission(IEC). The Freedom Front Plus (FF+) initially objected to the EFF’s registration, however, the objection was dismissed in September 2013.
Important role players in the EFF’s formation
7.Leigh Ann Mathys
Initial members of the EFF National Central Command Team:
Commander-in-Chief and National Convenor: Julius Malema
National Co-ordinator: Mpho Ramakatsa
6.Leigh Ann Mathys
10. Kenny Kunene
11. Mandisa Makesini
12. Hlengiwe Hlophe
Central Command Team as at January 2015
Julius Sello Malema
Commander in Chief: President
Leader of the Movement
Floyd Nyiko Shivambu
Policy, Research and International Relations
Deputy Secretary General
Secretary General Office
Special Projects and Legal Affairs
Public Services and Administration
Arts and Culture
Defence, Intelligence and Police
• Economic Freedom Fighters, (2015), ‘Economic freedom fighters central command team statement’, from Economic Freedom Fighters, 13 January, [online], Available https://effighters.org.za/economic-freedom-fighters-central-command-team-statement/[Accessed: 28 January 2015]