The South African government piloted by President Jacob Zuma has collapsed and is “just a banana republic,” Economic Freedom Fighters’ commander in chief, Julius Malema said on Thursday.

“The reality is that government has collapsed, we are on autopilot… we are a banana republic, all is gone. Anyone who thinks there would be some form of rescue coming from the ANC is lying to themselves. The ANC is gone and finished,” Malema told reporters at a briefing in Johannesburg.

“We do not have people with brains sitting around brainstorming how we can find funding for education, so the students are right. We have not seen anything wrong done by students except [a] violent response from the state, the same way the apartheid regime reacted to peaceful protests. The students are forced to engage in violent activities by a violent state…we are proud of our students and they should continue to soldier on.”

He said the EFF would never bail out of supporting the ongoing #FeesMustFall protest by students across South African universities and that lawyers worked around the clock to get those arrested out of police custody.

Billions of rands were lost every time Zuma took “a senseless decision” such as the removal of former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene from his post last year, he said.

“Every time Jacob Zuma takes irrational decisions, it is the poor that suffer the most, and now is the time the people of South Africa defend their country against a criminal syndicate running the state,” he said.

“If Zuma and [the] Guptas are allowed to continue in the manner they have been doing, South African grannies will not be able to receive old age grants, children and people with disabilities will not be able to get their social grants, teachers, police and nurses will not receive their salaries, and all systems that take care of basic needs will collapse.”

“There is money in South Africa to fund fee-free education for all, and what is needed is the political will and determination of the political leadership.”

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