Ismail Lagardien | EFF copies the Nats’ ways

It would be amusing to watch the EFF striking out against everyone who is not part of its own group, in a manner bordering on pre-pubescent rage, if its actions were not so terribly destabilising and toxic.

In some way, the EFF seems to have taken a leaf from the playbook of the old apartheid regime, who worked tirelessly at destabilising frontline states to try to show that Africans could not govern themselves.

This, anyway, is one of the lessons I drew from the EFF’s attempt at removing mayor Athol Trollip from his position in Nelson Mandela Bay.

Trollip may indeed be removed, or he may stay, but what seems certain, as least as far as the EFF is concerned, is that he should not be allowed to succeed, simply because he is white.

Before I continue, and given the nature of EFF politics, I should make a declaration. I make this declaration because I have received death threats and attacks on my character from members of the EFF and some rather nasty insults from Afrikaner ethno-nationalist groups over the past two months.

The accusations were that I “hate whites” (for my criticism of Afrikaner ethno-nationalists), that I did not “care for suffering black people” and that I hated Julius Malema (because of my criticism of the EFF).

I am not a member of any of the political parties in parliament. I do not support Afriforum or PRAAG or any ethno-nationalist group. I do not wish to kill boers, slaughter whites or cut the throat of anything or anyone.

I associate freely with those people who are pejoratively described as “constitutionalists”.

Consistent with this, I believe that our overriding focus should be to roll back the iniquities and injustices of the past through purposeful and strategic interventions to build a future that is prosperous, stable and with high levels of trust among the citizenry.

It should be done firmly and fairly, without losing sight of the Bill of Rights. These interventions will not always be obeisant to market orthodoxy. There, then, is my basic political position.

Setting that aside, it is fair to say that democracy – in republican terms, where elected politicians govern by consent of the governed, not by an aristocracy or royalty – means that sometimes you win in elections and sometimes you lose.

If you lose, you’re expected to continue holding elected officials to account, guided by the constitution, and within the rules of the legislature, and avoid extrajudicial malice. That is, of course, a basic account of political opposition in a republican democracy.

It may suffice for this argument. When opposition parties want to remove elected parties because of their ethnicity or race we enter into dangerous territory. It brings to mind the horrific genocide in Rwanda of 1994, when one group, mobilised on the basis of identity, induced others to participate in the killing of 800 000 members of another group – purely because they were of a different ethnicity.

Adolf Hitler’s slaughter of six million Jews was based, purely, on the basis that Jews were a different race. Apartheid’s injustices were meted out because “non-whites” were presumed to be inferior.

The key, here, is that Hitler blamed all the problems of German society on a single group – the Jews. In Uganda, Idi Amin specifically targeted people of Indian origin.

In South Africa, the EFF has targeted a single group, whites. Those are facts. If we accept that we, black people, cannot be racist, how does one explain the EFF?

There are, of course, any number of reasons for its behaviour, which is usually marked by disruption, threats, intimidation, name-calling, unsubstantiated claims or violence.

There is at least one explanation that has a solid ring. The EFF may be running out of ideas. It seems to be embarrassed by the lack of actual policy appeal since the departure of Jacob Zuma.

My mother had a sharp phrase she often used to describe anger expressed by an individual or a group. The phrase was “skaam kwaad”. It refers to those instances when a person or a group have been shown up to be ineffectual, when they have run out of ideas, when their ideas are stale, narrow-minded, or when their ill-begotten standing is exposed, and their first and only response, to conceal their embarrassment (skaamte), is anger (kwaad), and deflecting attention from themselves.

Other than blaming whites for all that is wrong with South Africa, the EFF seem to have very little else, in terms of policies, supported by evidence, to increase prosperity and overall well-being of 55 million citizens. Just so we’re clear, none of this is a defence of white supremacy, of Trollip or the DA.

It is in defence of democracy and social justice – without inciting race or ethnicity-based violence and revenge.