Bloemfontein – Open revolt erupted in the Economic Freedom Fighters’ national people’s assembly as at least two popular leaders declined nominations for leadership positions.
There was apparent unhappiness from especially Gauteng delegates about nomination slates doing the rounds and the situation in the University of the Free State conference hall in Bloemfontein was tense.
Nominations culminated with angry delegates from Gauteng leaving the hall to burn nomination lists and EFF headgear.
MPs Khanyile Litchfield-Tshabalala and Andile Mngxitama, whose names both appear on a party-endorsed slate that was doing the rounds amongst delegates today, both said they could not accept nomination.
Litchfield-Tshabalala said: “Allow me to be a follower for the next five years, it is safer for everyone.”
She was also nominated for deputy president and deputy secretary general last night, but she declined after it was clear that she was not the favoured candidate.
A visibly angry-looking Mngxitama got up to decline his nomination saying in a barely audible voice: “When I came here I was going to accept nominations, but after speaking to fighters about it and changed my mind. My revolutionary conscience will not let me accept it,” he said.
The meeting was interrupted several times by delegates raising points of order.
The first delegate complained about the lists doing the rounds, and the second delegate, from Gauteng, pointed out that the rules did not allow for lobbying for lists.
Both times party leader Julius Malema got up to intervene, taking over the podium from session chairperson Moses Masitha from the Grace and Mercy Institute.
Malema said the rules provided for a complaints procedure, which meant Gauteng delegates could give their written grievances to the steering committee, which would rule on it later.
A visibly angry Malema instructed: “Chair, you are going to take nominations, they can accept or decline.”
Gauteng delegates responded by singing: “What you are doing is unfair”, but Malema shouted amandla and then shouted: “High morale, high discipline” with delegates from other provinces responding to his chants until Gauteng delegates stopped their singing.
Nominations for the 35 additional member positions were done in an open plenary and with an open show of hands. Malema and the other top five leaders nominated unopposed last night were on stage. The nominations they supported by putting up their hands got nominated, while the others did not get enough support from the floor to be nominated.
During one such a nomination not supported by the leadership, delegates revolted again and Malema said they were free to nominate who they wanted. This prompted laughter from Gauteng delegates.
Malema also threatened to close the conference, but said there was no crisis. “We don’t need security to intervene. Provinces control your delegates.”
Security was tight at the conference venue, especially on Monday night.
In addition to university security, party security guards dressed in party gear and with riot helmets were at the venue to keep the peace.
A few security guards, which looked like VIP security, and dressed in suits and red ties, also helped keep the peace.
During nominations for the top six leaders last night, alternative candidates were nominated but then either went on to decline or did not make the mark. — Sapa