EFF moves onward, ready or not
The EFF has done well in student elections across SA university campuses.
There is every possibility that it will make huge gains in the next general election.
My hunch is that the EFF will at least double its representation in parliament. That is next year.
Right now, evidence, sentiments and the constant threat of violence place the EFF on the rise. This is, clearly, not to say that the EFF is necessarily a force for good for the country. Quite the contrary. That political parties necessarily represent or promote the common good, social cohesion, stability and trust among the population is a myth at the best of times. To the EFF it amounts to surrendering.
The EFF believes it has a right to control the destiny of South Africans.
Where distrust, instability and exclusive rights have historically been conditions to be avoided, the EFF has them as objectives.
There are at least two main reasons for the EFF’s increased popularity.
The first is because the ANC is in crisis. The second is because the EFF’s rhetoric is appealing to people who are desperate for a better life.
The problem, of course, is that the EFF may not be able to deliver a better life, at least not within a democratic constitutional order and not over the long term.
Unless you have a death wish, it’s probably not a good thing to disagree with the EFF or challenge it in any way.
The movement has ringfenced itself from critical engagement, public criticism and even legal challenge.
Nobody, from what I know, has successfully launched a legal challenge against the EFF.
Anyway, let us look at the first claim.
The ANC is like a rickety bus travelling on one of television’s “world’s most dangerous roads” on very little petrol.
The bus is rattling along, body parts are shaking loose, passengers are either jumping off or are being thrown off by jolts or by fellow travellers, while the driver cannot promise safety or even that the bus will reach its destination.
For now, everyone is just gobsmacked – if they’re not taking the money and running for cover. Will the bus reach the next stretch of road intact? Will it run out of fuel first? The next election, and a fresh mandate, cannot come quickly enough and if it comes too quickly, the ANC may not survive intact anyway.
In the meantime, the EFF seems to be expanding its appeal and if student elections are anything to go by, its electoral support is growing.
The problem is, of course, that the EFF is a formation driven by the manipulation of emotions, the politics of revenge and, well, by disruption, violence, duplicity and expediency. Its most effective tactical gambit is the manipulation of emotions.
Here, the EFF has no challengers.
The numbers are on its side. Consider the fact that there are at least six million people who are unemployed. The EFF promises to give them jobs.
At least five million people live in informal settlements.
The EFF promises to provide them with homes, or at least land. The EFF, like most political parties anywhere in the world, will probably not deliver on the promises it makes during election campaigns, but that means little.
They can always blame whites, Indians, the ANC, constitutionalism, colonialism, apartheid, the media or foreign intervention or “inferior logic”.
The EFF’s politics hinges on revenge. It wants to undo the racism and injustices of the past even if it means bloodshed.
The leader of the EFF, Julius Malema, has either stated it directly or endorsed the view that there can be no freedom without bloodshed.
These ideas of “freedom” and of “justice” are, of course, heavily proscribed – it applies in different measure to “Africans”, “coloureds”, “Indians” and “whites”, and only the EFF knows when to apply justice and freedom.
The EFF also has made a habit of disruption, vituperation and trading insults.
We need to look only at the footage of its members’ conduct in parliament.
The evidence is clear. And so, between the number of disaffected people in the country, making promises that it knows can never be kept and its gains across campuses across the country, the EFF may well gain significantly in the next election.
Here we can lay down two markers.
First, it would be insightful to track, over the next several months, how many meetings, gatherings or public engagements involving the EFF will end in or involve violence.
Second, we can state, with very little hesitation, that the EFF will contest the result of the next election. Mark your calendar, dear reader.
In the meantime, processes like the Zondo commission, the presidential advisory panel on land reform, the stimulus package, constitutionalism, and the rest of the population are waiting and watching that rickety bus hurtling down the mountain.
Nobody is sure if it will crash or run out of fuel first.