Malema lays the land for future growth

Charles Molele

EFF president Julius Malema has promised to grow the economy by 6% and create decent jobs for South Africans. He’s also aiming to amend the minimum wage Act – to see it increase to R4,500 from the current R3,500. All this – if his party wins the upcoming general elections.

Malema, speaking at the EFF’s manifesto launch in Pretoria, said his party would prioritise jobs by growing the economy and declaring tax-free zones for industries – on one condition: each company employs 2,000 workers on a full-time basis, pays minimum wages and contributes to workers’ pensions.

He said the party’s plan for job development will include building factories across South Africa, which will produce things that locals use on a daily basis. He’s also promising that a minimum of 80% of the goods and services procured by the State at all levels and at all state companies are domestically produced.

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“The EFF government will ensure that all food for local consumption is produced and processed on a massive scale in South Africa. This will happen through the intensification of small-scale farming and agricultural operations, including providing trade routes. All food traders in South Africa will be compelled by law to buy South African food products and to support operations that produce these food products,” said Malema. 

‘Laughable, unacceptable’

He said while the EFF supported the minimum wage for workers, his party will amend the current minimum wage act as promulgated by President Cyril Ramaphosa in November last year.

In terms of the current act, employers are expected to pay R20 an hour minimum wage. Malema said this was “ridiculous, laughable” and “totally unacceptable”. He added that “Under the EFF government, we will amend the current national minimum wage act to legislate sectoral determinations”.

“The EFF government will pass legislation that ensures a minimum wage of R4,500 across the board for all full-time workers and will fight that each of the following sectors accordingly receives the stipulated minimum wage: Mineworkers will earn R12,500, Farm workers will earn R5,000, Manufacturing workers will earn R6,500, Retail workers will earn R5,000, Builders will earn R7,000.

“Cleaners will earn R4,500, Domestic workers will earn R5,000 while private security guards will earn R7,500 per month,” Malema told his supporters at the jam-packed Giant Stadium in Soshanguve.

“To create sustainable jobs, the EFF government is also going to declare zero company taxes special economic zones and these economic zones will be given a special economic zones benefits such as tax incentives.”

The events of the day began earlier in the morning when long lines of exuberant EFF supporters flooded the stadium in Soshanguve, singing and cheering as they anxiously waited for Malema to address them.

By midday, Malema himself had yet to make it to the podium. The stage had been set and ready since 6am, while perky volunteers handed out t-shirts and caps emblazoned with party slogans. Excited EFF supporters also sang struggle songs and snapped selfies; posing with anyone who wanted to get in the picture-perfect frame.

Supporters impressed

Kabelo Gabonenwe, an EFF member from Kimberley in the Northern Cape, said Malema’s speech personally resonated with him as a young person growing up in tough economic times in South Africa as defined by the ‘triple challenges of unemployment, inequality and abject poverty’.

“The issue of job creation is imperative to us young people. He addressed this and many others in the language we understand as the youth and we can relate to. Day in and day out we are living those conditions he spoke about,” said Gabonenwe.

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“As a young person, I am also concerned about health issues. The health system in SA is failing us. The land issue also resonated with me. Our people are exploited on the farms and in our homelands. They are working the land, but we don’t own the means of production. Hence I believe in expropriation without compensation because history teaches us that the land was not bought from our forefathers but stolen. So it is a fundamental to us as young people to get our land back. It will benefit us all and equally so.”

EFF member and budding entrepreneur, Ursula Brown, 29, from Johannesburg, said she was impressed by the focus on entrepreneurship, township economy and township industrialization, among others.

“I believe job creation will come through the financial support of SMMEs,” said Brown.

“Once you run an efficient business, you will create jobs. As young people today we don’t like to depend on government for everything. We want to do things for ourselves and we should not be limited for doing so.”

A private security guard, Mpho Lebopa, 54, said he supported the EFF’s call to improve the minimum wage and amend the act as it stands today.

“We actually want to be paid at least R7,000 per month as security guards,” said Lebopa. “What I enjoyed by listening to Malema was how he criticized dumping in townships. There is too much dumping of garbage in our townships. In white neighbourhoods, there is no dumping and therefore no diseases.”

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