The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) announced its formation on 27 July, 2013 in Soweto. The party was formed by former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema and former ANC Youth League spokesman Floyd Shivambu. The organisation describes itself as a radical and militant movement for economic emancipation, calling for ‘economic freedom in our lifetime’.
The EFF sees economic freedom as total ownership of economic and natural resources by the previously oppressed and exploited majority. They believe that ‘economic freedom results when the people’s rights and freedom enable them to decide how to allocate their own economic resources for the development and upliftment of their own lives’. Their radical, leftist, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist agenda draws inspiration from the broad Marxist-Leninist and Fanonian schools of thought.
The party calls for the nationalisation of mines, banks and other strategic sectors of the economy, as well as the expropriation of land without compensation in order to undo the oppression which resulted from colonial domination. They also advocate for free education, housing, healthcare and sanitation. Their policies have been modelled in part after neighbouring Zimbabwe and greatly after Latin American Socialist rhetoric, specifically that of Venezuela. Their red beret pays homage to the late Hugo Chavez and evokes an image of militarism and revolution, also resonating with the revolutionary, Che Guevara.
The EFF’s seven pillars for economic emancipation are the following:
a. Expropriation of South Africa’s land without compensation for equal redistribution in use.
b. Nationalisation of mines, banks, and other strategic sectors of the economy, without compensation.
c. Building state and government capacity, which will lead to the abolishment of tenders.
d. Free quality education, healthcare, housing, and sanitation.
e. Massive protected industrial development to create millions of sustainable jobs, including the introduction of minimum wages in order to close the wage gap between the rich and the poor, close the apartheid wage gap and promote rapid career paths for Africans in the workplace.
f. Massive development of the African economy and advocating for a move from reconciliation to justice in the entire continent.
g. Open, accountable, corrupt-free government and society without fear of victimisation by state agencies.
Since the party's entry into parliament after the 2014 National Elections they have disrupted the annual State of the Nation Address refusing to grant President Jacob Zuma a platform. Each year this has resulted in the EFF members being forcefully ejected from the House.
The EFF was able to achieve 8.31 % of the overall vote in the 2016 elections. This has given the EFF the opportunity to govern various municipalities and be the king-makers in others.