Members of South Africa's far-left EFF party attend "National Shutdown" protest in Durban

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party leader Julius Malema has rejected claims that the metropolitan municipality, Ekurhuleni, was in financial disrepair.

Malema said the allegations were being spread to reduce EFF's chances of winning the upcoming general elections, which will be held in the first half of 2024.

"Today they want to create an impression that Ekurhuleni has financial problems. They even put a motion in the council that Ekurhuleni is about to be bankrupt," Malema said on Sunday, Mail & Guardian reported.

Malema denied the allegations, while addressing 5,000 EFF members at the party's Gauteng provincial ground forces forum.

He added his party checked the books of the municipality, where they learned "Ekurhuleni is in the positive. It is not negative. ... the finances of Ekurhuleni were stabilized by the EFF."

Gauteng is an important province for EFF, as it co-governs two metros -- Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg -- alongside the ruling party, African National Congress (ANC).

EFF Gauteng leader Nkululeko Dunga also spoke on similar lines last week after ANC Ekurhuleni chairperson Jongizizwe Dlabathi accused the former party's leaders of using taxpayers' money for their personal expenses.

"This is propaganda by the ANC in the metro, because despite the [allegations] from Jongizizwe, Ekurhuleni is more financially stable and in a better position than any other municipalities in the province," Dunga said last week.

"We hit the 93% target on the collection rate meaning our budget is funded. We are only servicing the current debt [to] Eskom with no overdue amount," he explained.

He went on to criticize the cities of Johannesburg and Tshwane, whose financial offices were run by ANC, blaming them for not being able to collect revenue and struggling to pay the government workers.

ANC and EFF both are going to face off against each other during the general elections.

While addressing the EFF members on Sunday, Malema said ANC will lose the elections in 2024.

"Those who think and believe the ANC will survive the 2024 national and provincial elections need very close medical and psychiatric observation," he said.

Malema continued, "We are in no doubt that from 2024 onwards, the EFF will constitute the government of South Africa and will play a central role in the governance of the province of Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, North West, Mpumalanga and all over South Africa."