By Sizwe sama Yende, 21 January 2014

Commander-in-chief of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema, kicked off his election campaign in Mpumalanga today by labelling Premier David Mabuza a “mafia”.

Read: David Mabuza shrugs off Julius Malema’s ‘cheap politicking’

Malema was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd when he arrived at Umjindi township near the mining town of Barberton at 1.30pm on a scorching day.

Addressing the crowd amid a heavy police presence, while ANC members looked on from a distance, Malema tore into Mabuza.

“This province is very corrupt and DD [Mabuza] is a mafia. No tender is awarded if DD doesn’t want [it to be awarded]. ANC members who don’t belong to DD’s faction don’t get jobs,” Malema said.

“I used to go to DD’s farm [when he was an ANC member] here in Barberton just to eat and I got nothing. If you’re an independent thinker, he and those in his faction feel uncomfortable,” he added.

Malema then accused President Jacob Zuma of having promised 500 000 jobs in 2009, which he failed to deliver. Instead, Malema said, 1.4 million jobs were lost in the country.

“Zuma gets confused with numbers. He quotes figures that are economically unrealistic,” he said.

Malema also said whites should not be compensated for land because that would be tantamount to affirming that crime pays.

Malema said after mines had been nationalised, his party would ensure that there was beneficiation to create jobs. He said that out of each mine – gold, platinum or manganese – three factories could be created.

“If you vote for the ANC, they will give you public works jobs to fix potholes, collect rubbish and sweep the streets,” he said.

Malema said people should not vote for the ANC out of fear of losing their social grants, adding that these would not be taken away since it was their money.

He said it was humiliating that young women had to stand in queues with grannies to collect child grants. Government should be creating jobs for young people, he said.

“When you see Zuma’s face on the ballot paper … point a finger at him and say those cattle you built a R1 million kraal for will vote for you. Tell him the wife he built a R500 000 spaza shop for should vote for him,” Malema said.

The EFF will this week consult communities on its manifesto, meet land claimants and an ANC splinter organisation – the Bushbuckridge Residents’ Association – and build houses for the needy.

The Barberton rally proceeded peacefully. At previous gatherings, the EFF claimed that ANC members had disrupted, assaulted and threatened its members.

The party has also attracted prominent ANC members in the province.

A few months ago, ANC chief whip in the Thaba Chweu municipality (Mashishing) defected to the EFF after complaining of too much corruption.

The ANC then lost veteran Joe Nkuna, who left in a huff after being overlooked to stand as ANC Ward 21 councillor in KaNyamazane near Nelspruit before by-elections even though he was favoured by the community.

Other defectors include former ANC chief in the Mbombela council, Mfana Nkosi, former ANCYL secretary Sonnyboy Maphanga and former exile and ANCYL treasurer Godrich Gardee.