Commander in Chief of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Julius Malema led hundreds of the party’s supporters and sports fans on a march to the office of sports minister Nathi Mthethwa in Pretoria on Thursday.
Malema’s demand to the government is straightforward: “open up stadiums to open the economy. There are many people who want to say what we are saying, but they are scared — but we are not cowards.”
Football figures such as SA Football Players Union (Safpu) general secretary Nhlanhla Shabalala, National Football Supporters’ Association (Nafsa) acting CEO Siyabulela Loyilane and AmaZulu director Manzini Zungu joined the picket in Tshwane.
The EFF leader has requested the government to open stadiums for fans regardless of their vaccination status.
“Do away with the mask, open the country and the economy, and we will take responsibility for our own lives,” said Malema, addressing a substantial cheerful crowd that included supporters of the different teams in the DStv Premiership.
“All of us, we are encouraged to vaccinate, but no-one is going to force anyone to vaccinate. We must vaccinate on our own — even at the stadium; we don’t require anyone vaccinated or not vaccinated.
“Let those who want to go to the stadium go to the stadium. We believe in science; we believe that vaccines are the solution to the problem, but don’t force people to vaccinate.
“We have said to the whole country and the world that Aids kills and use a condom. But we never went into every room to check if people are using condoms. We only encouraged them to do the right thing because it is a personal choice. All we can do as leaders of society is to influence our people to vaccinate, but we won’t force them,” he added.
Malema has given the government 10 days to open stadiums. If there is no response as to when fans can return to stadiums, the EFF will visit the SA Football Association (Safa) offices.
“If stadiums are not opened in a week’s time, we are going to SA Football Association (Safa) offices. We are going to try to find our way to FNB Stadium and sit there until the following morning to show them a stadium doesn’t kill people,” he declared.
“An [ANC] rally was held in Limpopo, and many activities were held there, and there is no report today that after that rally and activities, there is an increase of corona in Limpopo.
“We had a rally in KwaZulu-Natal, and today there is no report that after the EFF left corona increased in KZN. That is the only science we can use — in the absence of that; they are lying to us.”