Malema, an expelled former ANC Youth League president, urged South Africans to vote his new party to power in May
JOHANNESBURG – An outspoken South African opposition leader argued Sunday that the era of the country's ruling African National Congress (ANC) came to an end with the death of its former iconic leader and South Africa's national liberation hero Nelson Mandela.
"When Mandela died is when the ANC died," Julius Malema, the leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Party, told at a campaign rally in Kliptown, some 25km from Johannesburg.
"Now the ANC has become [President Jacob] Zuma's African National Criminals," he said.
Malema, an expelled former ANC Youth League president, said the governing party was corruption-free and accountable to all South Africans under Mandela.
He added that is no longer the case.
Mandela, who died last year, was South Africa's first democratically elected president.
He served for one five-year presidential term betweeen 1994 and 1999.
Mandela was revered by South Africans as the father of their nation after spending spent 27 years in prison for taking up arms to fight the apartheid regime.
Ever since Mandela left active politics the ruling ANC has been tainted by many cases of corruption.
Last month, Zuma was accused by the country's anti-corruption czar of using massive public funds to upgrade his rural home.
The renovation was supposed to have cost the state some $2.5 million. But with lavish upgrades – including a swimming pool, cattle kraal and visitor's center – the total cost skyrocketed to a whopping $23 million.
Zuma, was elected president in 2009, has denied any wrongdoing.
A smartly dressed Malema, who was once a former close ally of Zuma, introduced his party's candidate for the post of Premier of Gauteng region, Dali Mpofu.
"After 20 years of democracy when you look around here in Kliptown where the freedom chatter was adopted you only see poverty," he told a cheering crowd dressed in the party's trademark red t-shirts and berets.
"Give us a chance; give Dali Mpofu a chance to lead you," he added.
"Give us your vote. Let's change Kliptown," added Malema.
The EFF, which he founded last year, advocates for the re-distribution of the country's farmland, which is mostly in the hands of whites who benefited during the long period of white minority rule.
It wants to see resources shared between whites and blacks. The slogan of the party is "Economic Freedom in Our Lifetime."
Many youths and disaffected South Africans have joined the EFF, which claims to draw inspiration from the people's suffering and which promises to improve their lives once elected to power.
South Africans will go to the polls on May 7 to elect lawmakers and city council representatives.
The race will likely be dominated by the ANC, the Democratic Alliance, the EFF, the Congress of the People and the Inkatha Freedom Party.
Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency