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Africa

Malema's challenge to the ANC

Julius Malema, firebrand ex-leader of the youth wing of South Africa's ruling ANC, has officially launched his new party, the Economic Freedom Fighters. They hope to take on the ANC at the polls in 2014.

Thousands had gathered near the Marikana mine where 34 striking workers were shot dead by police last year to cheer 32-year-old Julius Malema and his newly formed Economic Freedom Fighters party (EFF).

Referring to the new party, he proclaimed "A different baby is born today, a giant… a child that walks immediately."

Überschrift: Julius Malema officially launches EFF Party Schlagworte: Malema, Economic Freedom Fighters, EFF, South Africa, ANC Wer hat das Bild gemacht: DW/Thuso Khumalo Wann und wo wurde es aufgenommen: South Africa, 13.10.2013 Was ist darauf zu sehen : youthful EFF supporters

One analyst told DW support for the EFF was expected to translate into seats in parliament at the next election

Malema started the EFF movement in July, when he said the group should be "a radical left, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movement."

"You must be afraid of that child," he warned.

Malema, former leader of the youth league of the ruling ANC, was expelled from that party early last year, because of ill-discipline.

Confiscate white-owned land

He said the EFF would fight for the poor and defend them against all forms of abuse. He promised domestic workers, security guards, taxi drivers, miners and sex workers, better wages if his party gets into power.

Überschrift: Julius Malema officially launches EFF Party Schlagworte: Malema, Economic Freedom Fighters, EFF, South Africa, ANC Wer hat das Bild gemacht: DW/Thuso Khumalo Wann und wo wurde es aufgenommen: South Africa, 13.10.2013 Was ist darauf zu sehen : EFF supporter wearing EFF red hirt

EFF claims to be "radical left, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist"

He also reiterated his demand for the nationalization of the mines, the cornerstone of the South African economy.

Malema repeated his call for the expropriation of white landowners. "You are not ashamed for having stolen our land. You want us to come to you and kneel before you to ask for the land of our ancestors, we are not going to do that," he said.

"We love Juju"

Thuso Khumalo, a DW correspondent in Johannesburg, says the formation of Malema's new party has been welcomed with great passion and excitement by his younger supporters, such as Yvonne Nong.

"I am a big fan of Juju. We love Juju. The government has let us down many times so I don't think Juju willl let us down," she told DW.

But the EFF has its critics. One caustic remark came from Charles Setsubi from the South African Communist Party, which is in alliance with the ANC. The EFF were, he said, anarchists "parading themselves as revolutionaries, masquerading themselves in military fatigues, but in real war, in real combat, we know such characters will have developed diarrhea even before the battle."

Expelled African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) President Julius Malema addresses a media conference in Johannesburg September 18, 2012. South African police on Monday barred Malema from addressing striking miners at Marikana where violence last month left more than 40 people dead, 34 of them striking miners shot by police. REUTERS/Jordi Matas (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: POLITICS)

Malema blamed the ANC and the mine owners for the loss of life at Marikana in August 2012

Public morality

Malema is notorious for his extravagant lifestyle and was fighting fraud and tax evasion charges. Two of his houses were sold in forced auctions to cover unpaid taxes, while his farm has also been seized. But Johannesburg-based political analyst Sabelo Ngwenya told DW he does not believe that this will necessarily work against him.

"My view is that public morality has never been a factor. We know very well that Zuma was facing serious charges of corruption, but he was elected overwhelmingly," he said, referring to South Africa's president, Jacob Zuma.

epa03589358 South African activist and business woman Mamphela Ramphele announces a new political party on Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg, South Africa, 18 February 2013. The initiative is called Agang or in the Nguni languages of South Africa Akhani which means 'Build South Africa'. The impressive achievements of the past 18 years of democracy in South Africa were being undermined by poor governance at all levels of society, according to Ramphele at the launch. The new party will contest the 2014 presidential elections. EPA/STR +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Mamphela Ramphele launched Agang in a bid to unseat the ANC

Ngwenya said the same applies to Malema. "It won't affect him much," he added.

The EFF wants to take on the ruling ANC in the 2014 elections. The ANC decided against expropriation of land and nationalization of mines, as favored by the EFF, at its conference in December of last year. Ngwenya believes the EFF's populist policies, which also include free education, will no doubt secure the party a number of seats.

But the EFF is not the only newcomer. In June, the respected academic, anti-apartheid stalwart and ANC critic Mamphela Ramphele launched Agang, which means "Let's build."

She says she wants to appeal to South Africa's disaffected millions.

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