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I'll lead my party from parliament, says Malema

19 January 2014 - 02:09 By THABO MOKONE
EFF leader Julius Malema. File photo.
EFF leader Julius Malema. File photo.

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema is ready to serve as an MP - despite his earlier denunciation of parliament as a place for old people.

Malema, who spent the weekend campaigning for votes in the Western Cape, said on Friday that he was preparing to lead the EFF from the national legislature in the event that it garners enough votes to secure representation in parliament.

"I am going to parliament after elections. I will lead the EFF from parliament. I am leading the EFF everywhere else they go. So I can't, when it's parliament time, disappear," he said.

Malema repeatedly stated as the ANC Youth League president that he had no wish to be an MP.

He told the South African Union of Jewish Students at a meeting in Cape Town in 2011 that parliament was not a place for energetic young politicians like himself.

However, the EFF commander-in-chief, who is facing legal woes and financial challenges, said that he had a "change of heart".

"When I was in the youth league, there was no need for me to go to parliament. I think there were sufficient numbers [in] parliament, but also the constitution of the youth league required me to be full time in the ANC Youth League," he said.

"So I was not going to undermine the constitution. In the EFF the constitution is different and allows that space, and we shall lead our people into that aspect of life," he said.

In a survey of 3585 people last year, research firm Pondering Panda found that one in four aged 18 to 34 were keen to vote for the EFF.

Malema said once represented in the National Assembly, the EFF would be a thorn in the ruling party's side, pushing for "heated debates".

Parliament, particularly ANC MPs, are often accused of being too protective of ministers by blocking controversial debates and questions from opposition parties.

Malema said his party would fight to change this.

"It's going to be very difficult for the people who will be leading this government after the elections, because we'll be there. We are going to introduce very difficult questions. We want an activist parliament - the parliament that when you think of going to make presentations to it, you have to think twice," Malema said.

"Not a parliament you just regard as a walkover because you undermine all those who are there.

"It's going to be a very heated parliament with new dynamics, new energy, and those things that they've been doing in parliament are going to have to change."