The Economic Freedom Fighters could be driven to take up arms against “state violence” just like the ANC did when it embarked on an armed struggle in the 1960s, party leader Julius Malema said on Friday.
“If they (the ANC government) are fighting, we will fight, with everything we have. We are fighting the state violence. The state violence will be met with violence,” he told full hall of professionals and opinion makers at Daily Maverick’s The Gathering in Midrand.
The ANC was the “most peaceful” organisation until it could no longer tolerate the violence of apartheid. He denied he was putting the lives of his supporters at risk.
“I’m putting my life at risk, believe it. I will do it myself,” he said.
Malema denied inciting violence among his supporters.
“You think they are gullible, you think they are empty heads. That’s how you view black people. That is wrong. That is what we are subjected to. When you say you will take a gun in defence of your revolution, people say you are spreading violence.”
Malema said if President Jacob Zuma “is going to beat me up, I [won’t] fold my arms like that.”
“There is not any violence that can be attributed to the EFF,” he said, in reference to the ANC’s infighting about positions for candidates on the 3 August local government election lists.
Malema said ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize, who spoke earlier, “comes from a most violent organisation who shoot and kill each other for positions”.
He repeated the assertions he made at the party’s manifesto launch in April that the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) “stole” the 2014 elections in Alexandra on the ANC’s behalf. He claimed he had to drive from Polokwane on that day to “accept” the results and prevent his supporters from protesting.
The IEC has cautioned against Malema’s assertions, saying they are untrue.
“We must not take up arms to self-destruct because the enemy will set us up to self-destruct,” Malema said.
“We will take over this government and there will not be a single drop of blood under my instruction. But if we are fought, the members will say we have fought for far too long now.”
Malema told Al Jazeera earlier this year the EFF was prepared to take power through the barrel of a gun. The ANC laid charges of high treason against the EFF in response.
Malema said he wanted to crush white privilege, but that “Afrikaners” who successfully built white suburbs should be brought back to mentor young black apprentices.