Why the EFF will struggle in a future existence!
-Can it ever escape the antithetical twin personality-cult (Zuma & Malema) definition of its existence? –
It is history now that a party named the EFF or Economic Freedom Fighters was formed, is duly registered and in the run for the 2014 National Elections. Can we for a moment reflect on what the future of this party is through understanding its formation and overarching reason for existence?
The Economic Freedom Fighters party claims a start in the undeniable need of economic redress for a majority of people wrongly or rightly defined as ‘black’ who informed by the systems of colonialism, apartheid underpinned by racism remain left behind, denied, robbed and in abject poverty.
It is my view that regardless to a political freedom attained at the dawn of our democracy, the subject of economic redress no sane South African can question or regard as irrelevant. Africa’s history in liberation or independence marks decisive moments of political freedoms, yet the homecoming of economic redress to these very independent nations has remained consistently evasive for all of Africa’s independent states. If Ghana is an example, after more than 50 years of democracy independence and political freedom this nation still wrestles with the challenge of an economic redress. In fact, Ghana’s economic growth has peaked and is high at 7% as one of the leading countries in the continent.
Yet this economic growth so desperately argued in SA at what is considered a paltry projected growth of 1,5% has not translated in any meaningful sense to a true change of life exemplified in economic redress for Ghanaians. Rendering the question of the relevance of economic growth as a sign of redress a subject of speculation, yet that is another topic.
The words of Nkrumah in his comparison between socialism and colonial capitalism, is perhaps relevant in this context when remarks: “Ghana inherited a colonial economy…. We cannot rest until we have demolished this miserable structure and raised in its place and edifice of economic stability, thus creating for ourselves a veritable paradise of abundance and satisfaction… we must go forward with our preparations for planned economic growth to supplant the poverty, ignorance, disease and illiteracy left in the wake by discredited colonialism and decaying imperialism…. Socialism is the only pattern that can within the shortest possible time bring the good lie to the people.”
Therefore, if one argues the formation of the EFF as that which is derived from the reality of tangible need to transform the South African economic plateau to reflect not borrowed robes but African kaftans of ownership it would be difficult to falter its relevance and existence in this epoch.
Much as the reality and context of a much-needed economic redress exists and cannot be argued away, close examination of the formation of the EFF, appears not honestly located on this crucial axis of this reality.
I shall endeavour to argue, that the EFF as an organisation exists contrary to public belief not really in economic redress – which is really a tool, but the subject of a combination of antithetical personalities.
The first of these personalities, when first does not have to assume a chronological first, but a fundamental first is that of its leader Julius Sello Malema.
The truth is the EFF was formed as a direct result of an expulsion of its leader or commissar as the EFF prefers to refer to its leaders. It is here that we must pause to ask – what is the salience of its existence devoid of the expulsion of this leader?
It will become necessary to admit that the EFF derives its meaning informed by the persona of its leader, who rightly at a particular time in his historic party raised the subject of economic redress. The EFF therefore it can be argued is a party that was formed firstly because its leader was expelled. On the cuff, this argument could be reduced to ignorance because he as leader is expected to be paramount in his party, yet that as an experiential reality, cannot be confused for the fundamental purpose of its existence.
Secondly, the EFF in existence if the aggregate of the official public pronouncements, comments, articulations, and press releases are anything to go by exists and derives its meaning from another personality. The second personality, which perhaps again is not necessarily a chronological second but a fundamental second and may even really be the first personality axis for the EFF’s existence is Jacob Zuma, the current president of the ANC and South Africa.
When we remonstrate here Zuma a cardinal reason for the existence of the EFF, it is not to make cheap attack of the EFF. It is to make bold in acknowledgement at an ontological level the fact that it is the persona of a Zuma, wrongly or rightly encountered, experienced as perceived by the EFF leader and his team that constitutes the essence of resistance. This therefore necessitates the question can the EFF exist outside the mellifluous confined munificence of the personalities it has as its ontological and primary base.
Thirdly the EFF has not abandoned its former ANCYL leadership fight, it cannot rise above the recalcitrance of a fight, which has an internal organisational context, the same that protests eternally shaping it. It appears victims and hostages carceral to the identity of a historic ANCYL. It was as ANCYL leader that the EFF leader pronounced, jibed, accused, blamed, and pummelled insults on the ANC leadership. It was in the constricted confines of a membership that it challenged at every turn the sitting ANC president and his leadership with the explicit aim to unseat him and thus rescue the ANC from his control as what the deemed a dictator.
It was from the bedrock of that rebellion that it arrogated a power to rescue the ANC presidency and hand it to whomever they think another personality Kgalema Motlanthe, Matthew Phosa, Tokyo Sexwale or whomever at the time of ‘kingmaker-status’ it was able to claim a comrade in a struggle against the ANC leadership. Listening to the EFF Leadership in particular, its leader you still hear the same rhetoric, the same insults the same rebellion. This aspect speaks directly to the conundrum of EFF history from which it cannot escape. You hear this meandering insult and at times childlike blackmail in the EFF’s leader’s latest rant ‘The ANC forgave apartheid murderers whose hands drip with blood, but it won’t forgive me”. This confirms that the EFF leader has not fully shaken the identity of former ANCYL president, and potentially may never in the future.
I shall ask can the EFF exist without its current Commissar? God forbid and we pray nothing ever as tragic as death occurs to anyone before time particularly not someone as young as its leader; yet can the EFF move on free from the confines of its leader if he for whatever reason is no more there? The answer appears no, because regardless to how we may attempt searching for an EFF policy think-tank, strategic thrust, leadership direction, manifesto and visionary presence, these stand in the shadow of a Juju. If I may speculate perhaps, Kenny Kunene who in quick succession dumped the EFF and recently registered his own party to compete also next year may have come to this conclusion that the EFF is Malema and Malema is the EFF. This very possibly could translate to a MEFF in congruence of acronym.
This reality is a daunting one since Malema constitutes the EFF in a larger than life construct for he is its existence and any thought of him not leading an EFF is not remotely a reality. The persona of Malema good bad or indifferent shapes the day-to-day experience of the South African public on who the EFF is. Malema’s statements cause jitters among a claimed ‘white’ endangered group. It is the pronouncements of Malema whether addressing the media or in a criminal court case embrace that defines who the EFF is. The EFF therefore shifts in ‘headquarters’ to wherever Malema finds himself and this roving of its ‘headquarters’ comes with a volatility and flux of what I choose to call unsettled debris.
The EFF has since its existence whilst endowed with a legitimate anchor-opportunity of economic redress handed on a platter by 20 years of inaction on the part of the ANC, failed to present a concise and practical plan supported by a constitutional democracy paradigm for its vision of economic redress. It is an organisation caught in the ebb and flow of tides never totally settled on its visionary outlook of a claimed economic redress, if it can settle for its vision is not really its vision – but remains the dethroning of another persona Jacob Zuma.
On the other hand, can the EFF exist beyond the other persona (Jacob Zuma) who constitutes the sphere of its existence? The current ANC leader a year ago won his second term with a landslide victory at Mangaung. Thus, he gained the right to lead the ANC and is poised to lead the Nation after April 2014 when the 5th elections results are out. This would best case scenario forbidding all other potential and brewing ructions see him leading the ANC until 2017 and the country until 2019. Whilst this may be considered a long time, the truth is it is not, suggesting 4/5 years maximum.
The following scenarios may unfold, the president may like any of us one morning during his term never wake up. He may fall ill and may not be able to hold office and or he may be impeached for whatever many reasons exists in our public domain as legitimate grounds for his impeachment aka Nkandla gate etc. In the case of the latter, the ANC may as it deployed him recall him for it has done so in 2008 when it recalled a sitting South Africa president. Suggesting the lifespan of a Zuma presidency is nowhere a guarantee that it will necessarily end by 2018/2019 respectively, therefore in relation to the EFF it holds too much significance.
The truth is removing a Zuma presidency in ANC and Country context is a fundamental axis of the EFF and thus if this attained, would render it in mission accomplished and conclude its true existence rendering it potentially irrelevant in future.
The faulty context for this assumption of a removal of Zuma though the essence of the EFF’s existence, lays in this that the ANC unlike the EFF does not exist because of a Zuma. Regardless to how the EFF attempts to invoke the acronym of ZANC on the ANC, it simply cannot be argued if Zuma leaves however before his term ends or at the end of his second terms the EFF members will be called by the ANC into a meeting to discuss how they can be reintegrated back into the body corporate of the ANC.
It appears justifiable and much more easier to talk about a MEFF than a ZANC if these two organisations are duly analysed as practiced realities. The ANC as a 100-plus year old organisation has a deputy president, who was voted in by its constituencies and structures that determines its vision backed by a policy presence that informs the plan its president follow and lead in a collective of leadership in consultation with its strategic partners exemplified as the Tripartite Alliance.
It is not as simple as that, neither is it as romantic as that. The truth is the EFF leadership has been expelled after a series of legitimate hearings and recognised processes in what was considered perhaps the most volatile period of post-apartheid internal organisational context. The expulsion notwithstanding some objecting for a variety of divergent reasons against it were accepted at the July 2012 Policy Conference and adopted at the December Mangaung 2012 Elective Conference regardless to the many silo attempts of overturning it. The ANC will not be able to afford the repatriation of the EFF leader unless it wants to make him its leader for he would be able to claim to unseat anyone any time for his persona would eclipse the due processes and praxis of ANC leadership elections.
Hence, Zuma for all intends and purposes are insignificant in the greater scheme of things. That insignificance of a sitting president was shown in 2008 when Thabo M. Mbeki was recalled. The commentary at the time blazoned “the end of the ANC.” That incident saw the formation of a COPE, which many thought, will take the ANC down, yet COPE is in tatters court-hogged in leadership tussle of who really leads it. Many of those who left returned to the ANC, and are sitting very still, and quiet trying to earn the respect of the ANC. The ANC shook that off maybe not with ease but it is part of its history and one cannot argue that any president ever will hold the significance in the ANC as an organisation juxtaposed to that of the very significant Malema in the EFF.
Having looked at the trapped state of the EFF in a dichotomy of personalities immanent in its significant Commissar Julius S. Malema and the antithetical Jacob G. Zuma, combined with its nagging ANCYL history it becomes challenging to contend a future for the EFF if any of these personalities abruptly pass on or falls in challenge of self-designed misfortune.
The pertinent question for the future EFF existence then becomes, does the followers understand that this antithetical personality-cult trapped state of design, which its party is held in proverbial hip-hop Mary – Mary shackles and from which it simply cannot escape? Do they appreciate that economic freedom fighting is not a primary aspect, since it can never be if the primary essence of its existence is cast in stone and already defined?
Can the EFF escape this personality-trapped context and derive relevance in the South African political context. A relevance that 50 years from now would be regarded a significant moment when it was launched as the dawn of true economic redress in which the subject became the primary reasoned, discussed, engaged, placated aspect and not that of a persona be it Zuma or his antithesis Malema?
- Perhaps it will help the EFF to begin engaging these aspects and depart from the rhetoric it has paraded in volumes for the duration of its existence. Perhaps it must present its collective leaders to afford an opportunity for us as public to see the depth of what it presides over at multi-levels.
- Perhaps it must designate deliberate and contextual space to engage on platforms available to crystallise the construct of an economic freedom, also why it is a fight and not an event of red berets. The public discourse of political and economic future for SA in which economic redress anchors such remains empty of any scholarly and researched articles and input as led by the initiative of the EFF.
The likes of Floyd Shivambu, Dali Mpofu, Andile Mngitixama, and others are all independent thinkers who should give us a mosaic of interpretation of this dream of economic redress as understood in EFF context. Not only have that but propel these debates at YouTube level, in forums and structures of our evolving multi-level communications and social media fronts. The EFF lacks a strategic thrust to see the necessity of leading and redirecting the discourse to drive ultimately its point home, because it is held hostage by its history and confined to its personality based definition.
Why not let these and others who come gifted to ventilate their views be exposed to the debate in real-time. One may not agree with the aforementioned individuals on an ideological platform but they have each a valid contribution to make in the context of an evolving EFF discourse of economic redress. Is it not too an expensive cost to incur to have the EFF defined in singular Malema turbulence of utterance context?
- Perhaps free the EFF from the ongoing Malema court case- drama, and locate it in the space it deserves as a pungent reality. If not the EFF will run the risk no different to the former ANCYL leadership to become irrelevant as an organisation and structure.
- Perhaps the EFF must shift its focus from Malema and create a presence outside of Malema; the same I contend appears its current impossibility. More so, the EFF must shake itself loose from the entrapment of a Zuma unseating paradigm to prove relevant and real in its overarching claimed mission.
- Perhaps the legitimate economic redress must take centre stage not in solar flares of antecedent hate speech and moribund threat, but constructive sanguine and thought provoking paradigms of reason.
- Perhaps if the EFF begins to locate the debate where it ought to be its relevance in democracy will force an ANC to respond either in shifted paradigm of inaction or retaliation which will severely harm it.
- Perhaps the EFF must focus on the 7% of COPE voters still searching for a political home and claim these from a COPE that is directionless. One is saying broaden the EFF horizon beyond the ANC and ANCYL presence.
I like many in South Africa equally prove desirous of the elusive economic redress for the masses. Yet we cannot assume redress is a solitary exercise therefore we must take the debate on economic redress to another level, the masses remained owed it as an undeniable reality.
In the final analysis, I simply do not think the EFF has taken the subject of economic redress yet serious and I equally doubt if it ever will be able for the personality, cult defined in love and hate renders it a blurred picture to see it is not taking the genuine subject of economic redress serious.
It is my unequivocal submission that history will judge the EFF no different to the ANC for not having taken the time to take the subject serious when it claimed it focussed on such! The recreation of the Nkrumah’s ‘veritable paradise for abundance and satisfaction’ is not an optional matter and therefore cannot become a mirage or phantom of never attained utopian dream for SA.
Clyde N.S. Ramalaine
*****This article appears courtesy of Dusty Musings – Political Commentary & Analysis 2013-2014
Due February 2014