THE EFF could be driven to take up arms against “state violence” just like the ANC did when it embarked on an armed struggle in the 1960s, party leader Julius Malema said today.

Speaking at Daily Maverick’s The Gathering in Midrand, Malema said: “If they (the ANC government) are fighting, we will fight, with everything we have. We are fighting the state violence. The state violence will be met with violence.”

He denied he was putting the lives of his supporters at risk. “I’m putting my life at risk, believe it. I will do it myself,” he said.

Malema denied he was encouraging his supporters to use violence.

“There is not any violence that can be attributed to the EFF,” he said. This was unlike the ANC, which has been rocked by infighting about positions for candidates for the 3 August local government election lists.

“We must not take up arms to self-destruct because the enemy will set us up to self-destruct,” Malema said.

“We will take over this government and there will not be a single drop of blood under my instruction. But if we are fought, the members will say we have fought for far too long now.”

Malema told Al Jazeera earlier this year the EFF was prepared to take power through the barrel of a gun. The ANC laid charges of high treason against the EFF in response.