EFF leader Julius Malema took credit for the unusual uninterrupted electricity supply throughout the country on Monday, saying that was the most accurate indicator of the success of his party’s national shutdown protests.
Speaking to party members and supporters who gathered for a demonstration at Church Square in Pretoria, the country’s capital and the seat of the central government, Malema said the event was “the most successful shutdown ever in the history of the struggle”.
“Today on my way here, they said they are cancelling loadshedding for today. There is no demand for electricity today because factories are closed,” Malema said.
“The biggest consumers of electricity are closed. And that is how, typically, you should measure the success of this shutdown.”
He also boasted that the shutdown had an impact on operations at the Richards Bay coal terminal, one of the world’s largest coal export terminals and the largest in Africa.
There have been questions raised about why Western countries continue to buy quality coal from South Africa, but encourage South Africa to discontinue coal power production.
“In Richards Bay, no single truck or train was seen. Today South Africa is shut down,” Malema told the crowd.
He said the EFF’s critics had expected the countrywide protests to be marred by chaos and violence, but they were disappointed.
“The anarchists and those who pretend to be opposed to anarchy say the shutdown has failed because there is no looting or burning of property or arrest of leaders. Therefore, the shutdown is not successful. That is a lie.”
He added that there was a campaign to “project the EFF as an organisation of anarchists”.
“We are an organisation of disciplined forces of the left that can shut down the country without burning the country or looting. Because looting is not our mission.
“The topic now is whether the shutdown has been successful or not. The topic is not looting or burning. All members and supporters of the EFF did so in a respectful manner.”
He also heaped praise on members and supporters for closing down Sandton, the country’s main economic hub and the wealthiest square mile on the continent.
Said Malema: “The biggest centre of economy in the whole of Africa is Sandton. As we speak today, Sandton City is closed down. The mighty EFF does so without burning a building or doing anything illegal.”
He said the EFF’s only agenda was to see the end of loadshedding and that President Cyril Ramaphosa must resign.
The party also called for the reduction of unemployment, gender-based violence, high levels of crime, and poverty.
Malema warned the police and the army not to act outside of their constitutional mandate.
“The police are the ones who are brutal. The protesters are peaceful. We are doing this until midnight. The police must know that they must never act outside the constitution.
“They have a duty to protect private citizens and property. We are private citizens and we are property. Therefore, the police have a duty to protect us.”
He also said the police had “a duty to make sure that no one disturbs these protests, [and] it cannot be the police themselves who disturb the protest [because] that is acting outside the constitution”.
He continued: “When they put more than 3 000 soldiers on the street, the intention was to intimidate you. You did not show the soldiers your back. We are the only people not scared of Ramaphosa, his soldiers, and his police.”
He added that it was foolhardy for Police Minister Bheki Cele to boast that he had confiscated 25 000 tyres ahead of the protests.
“Then they say the minister is successful because he arrested tyres. Since when is the business of tyres illegal in South Africa?
“There are drugs and nyaope on the streets, but they will never collect them. They confiscated tyres”.
He added that despite “all the intimidation and court orders, everybody in SA listened to the EFF and said today is not a working day”.
“Be proud that you made it without burning a building or looting. We would rather die than succumb to the dictatorship of Ramaphosa.
“It is not unconstitutional to say the president must step down. We did it before with [former president] Jacob Zuma, and he had better struggle credentials than Ramaphosa.”
Malema noted that all the dictators on the African continent should be told that their days were numbers.
“We do not have anything. We only have our bodies and our souls. We will die with our conscience intact because we never sold out”.
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