JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) led a march on Tuesday calling for a fairer distribution of the country’s wealth, the latest sign of anti-government dissent following a wave of student protests last week.
Protests by students across South Africa pressured President Jacob Zuma into scrapping plans to increase university fees next year, in what was seen as a symbolic victory for the post-apartheid “Born Free” generation.
The political party, led by Julius Malema, is looking to use the momentum built from the student demonstration to increase the pressure on Zuma’s African National Congress (ANC) ahead of local elections next year.
“Black people remain a conquered nation 20 years into democracy,” Malema told 702 Talk Radio.
“We want to bring the best of the best policies which will grow this economy and create jobs for everybody and distribute the wealth of South Africa to all South Africans,” he added.
The EFF march, which attracted hundreds of people, will stop at the Chamber of Mines, South African Reserve Bank, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, as it calls for the country’s institutions to ensure the white minority release wealth into the hands of the black majority.
Zuma is often quoted saying only around 10 percent of the JSE is owned by black South Africans, while the exchange says blacks own at least 23 percent of the top 100 companies.
Malema, a former ANC youth leader, has stamped his mark on South African politics with mocking criticism of Zuma and regular reminders that the masses have yet to feel the economic benefits since the end of white minority rule in 1994.
The EFF has pledged to nationalize South Africa’s mines and land, raising fears of the kind of seizures of white owned farm undertaken by Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.
“The land of South Africa was stolen and taken through genocide and black people were killed,” Malema said.
The EFF, formed in 2013, won 6 percent of the vote at the national election last year, gaining 25 seats out of 400 in parliament, while the ANC claimed 62 percent, down from 66 percent in 2009.
Malema expects the EFF to grow its support base at municipal elections next year where the ANC will be run close by the main opposition Democratic Alliance in important urban areas, including the economic hub Johannesburg.
Reporting by Joe Brock and Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Alison Williams