– don’t forget an ANC at its weakest ever produced this much-celebrated EFF results-
Let me firstly congratulate South Africa for again staging successful democratic municipal elections that is free, fair and transparent. Listening to the CNN broadcast on our elections will convince one the ANC has lost all political power, then again that’s CNN.
I also wish to congratulate the DA for their securing of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, which confirms their aim to proverbially concur SA in elections from the Cape of Good Hope along its coastal line.
Let me equally congratulate the EFF for having grown its voting footprint albeit by a 2% margin. There is no question that the EFF is a new kid on the block if its age is considered the only yardstick.
In the aftermath of the now pronounced results as shared by the IEC, it is perhaps time to ask how do we interpret the EFF election and what does it mean in the bigger scheme of things.
I am on record as can be confirmed from an earlier opinion piece, where I questioned the continual existence of the EFF beyond its antithetical twin-personality of origin namely Jacob Zuma and Julius Malema. In such I maintained that the EFF primarily and fundamentally exists to dethrone Jacob Zuma in vengeance of a Julius Malema expulsion.
I stated when either of these two might for whatever reason leave the political scene the relevance of the EFF will prove obsolete. In case you think what is he smoking, because the EFF has performed so well. I still hold today the same stance. It is two years later l hold it is confirmed that the EFF cannot shed its original reason for its existence and remains trapped in such therefore muzzled in not finding policy relevance. The EFF simple cannot untie itself from a Malema as the epicentre of its daily life and he is entrenched as the EFF and the EFF is Malema.
Journey therefore with me as I try and make the case that we are not reading the elections results of the EFF in soberness of mind. We not looking at the time we are living in neither the state of the ANC in this election as its weakest ever in election history.
There are perhaps two important issues that are conveniently left in abeyance in our current elections results. One being the true state of the ANC and the secondly the new role of kingmakers for coalition government.
One does not mean to pour cold water on the performance of the EFF, for that would be completely uncalled for and made out as a form of sour grapes.
The success escapades of the EFF is pronounced in admiration of accolades and equally dovetailed with a claim of them being only 3 years old.
It is today the kingmaker in at least 3 Metro municipalities. Its status of kingmaker is today the talk of town, to the extent that they plausibly misread their actual election results.
What is perhaps completely forgotten, as fact is that the ANC came to these polls in 2016 the weakest it has ever been in any election before? It came to the polls with all sorts of own goals; a known failed often-reactionary communications strategy immanent in emptiness of synchronized message, theme or even strategy. It could not even muscle a proper read of all Madiba’s sayings on the opposition to stymie off the recasting of Mandela as DA member.
The ANC came on the back of an Nkandla bloody nose, a Constitutional Court ruling, violent unrests and a generally unhappy inside and outside voter. Admitted factions around twin personalities as Tshwane a month before the elections in violent infrastructure destruction and loss of life confirmed. Abrupt leadership change in Kwa Zulu Natal. Threatened court cases from some provincial leaderships personalized or organization based.
The ANC entered the elections with some preoccupied in jockeying for a coming 2017. The ANC started its campaign riddled with a barrage of unnecessary communication gaffes, retractions misstatements and a collision cause with SABC leadership. This was negatively crowned with unnecessary deaths of candidates from KZN and the Eastern Cape. It allowed the EFF to set the tone of filling stadiums as a subject of importance, something the ANC never has done before.
This season saw an ANC with list nomination challenges more prevalent than ever before.
It came to the polls with a Gauteng leadership as always preoccupied with national leadership with careless statements of ” don’t punish us because of Zuma”. (What confidence does any leadership exude to go to voters asking vote for us, despite our president). This clearly may backfire when provinces at the soul search and introspection Indaba are called to account for their mediocre election performances. It is fair to say the ANC entered the elections arena, punch-drunk and wobbling, in dizziness of having to contend with too many wars.
Considering the above affords me to conclude the ANC therefore was at its weakest in this season. Any party contesting an election with these aforementioned counting against it would naturally haemorrhage in that election and may even be completely without power.
Yet the final tally confirms the ANC secured 54% of the National vote, the DA 27% and the EFF 8%. The elections by municipalities attests the following the ANC confirms 168, DA 24 and IFP 6, with 26 smaller hung Councils. The rough claim can thus be made the actual drop of 8% on the part of the ANC from its 2011 Municipal elections is really that which the EFF today claim as theirs.
The EFF on average received 8,3% of the national vote meaning the EFF improved 2% on its debut it made in 2014 national elections.
The result of the EFF attests not a single municipality anywhere from the smallest to the largest. It is here I wish to postulate the EFF obtained 8% election result when the ANC was at its weakest ever.
I dare assert that the ANC will never be this weak again if sense prevail. This was also for record sake the official last elections that the Jacob Zuma factor had to be added into the equation.
Now if the EFF in such season as now can with all the grudge of ANC voters only amass 8%, how will it perform with a reasonably stronger ANC? In particular and ANC devoid of the undeniable weaknesses we have lived through?
The EFF must therefore ask itself notwithstanding claims of limited resources and a 3-year age why didn’t SA in this season of total ANC weakness entrust it with any of its municipalities if its message so much resonates with the claimed masses of SA in being unhappy with the ANC.
Is it possible that we have seen the best performance of this 3-year-old party, who clearly derives its meaning, purpose and fixation in a current ANC president who will never be present in any election by 2019?
The second aspect of my argument of an interpretation of the EFF elections performance vacillates on the fact that emanates from its king maker status.
We must equally ask how will the EFF perform when it is now a coalition kingmaker. We have heard its chairman Mpofu expeditiously in simplicity of claim pronounce they will have coalitions with all but the ANC. Clearly this was a shortsighted perhaps angry statement bereft of the reality of politics where there are no permanent enemies or friends.
Perhaps one may assert the EFF stands before its first real ideological and principal challenge. Is this its first proverbial Rubicon? It has never been here in its brief political life and has never had to engage the nagging but very real subject of coalitions which usually has a tendency to make the smaller party or dealmaker a add on of those it determined to go with.
They say history repeats itself; COPE perhaps the maximum symbol for ANC breakaway parties in vengeance was here too. It in another season of ANC vulnerability in recall of its SA President was birthed in anger and went on to score what was deemed a significant 7% in national elections. However COPE is today for all practical reasons history in relevance and the case can be made it exists today perhaps to maintain the retirement upkeep of its dwindled leadership. Is this the high moment of the EFF no dissimilar to that of COPE?
The EFF’s ideological challenge resonates in this that if it opts to go with the DA, it would have committed political suicide at least at an ideological level. They then will no longer be able to accuse the ANC of its early in democracy National Party agreements that resulted in the economic slavery of the black masses.
If it decides to go with the ANC, because it is known as light in true policy footprint will see it absorbed as advocating ANC policies. By the way the same policies they accuse the DA and ANC to share in neo-liberalism claims.
It furthermore runs the claimed reputational risk in the eyes of its voters of now associating with the very party from which it was birthed in vengeance. A party it has vilified, sold to SA as corrupt, its leaders self-serving and a party that betrayed the revolution for true economic emancipation. How will it’s voters trust it to be ideologically sound, reputational clean and functional in visionary outlook.
Thus the EFF’s success in this election may turn out to be its real Mt. Everest in highest moment of societal consciousness. It may become its true Rubicon and its defining new identity, which may see it gradually, decline, since its performance in this season was due to and ANC that was at its weakest. Also having to make bedfellows with both the DA and ANC does not help them in singularity of political relevance.
I hold the hope the ANC will never be in the foreseen future find itself in such weak position as evidenced in a toxic combination of own goals, lack of leadership credibility, recognised factions, a strive for material gain and a blundered campaign.
I hold beyond, campaigning and theatrical parliament games of insult and a Jacob Zuma fixation can the EFF live to see another day of elections (2019) when it based on its current success stands confronted in its first true existential ideological test and Rubicon this season.
Can the EFF live to see another day beyond a Zuma who has just participated in his last elections as a central figure? Can the EFF’s current hegemony around a Malema personality as its true north withstand the unforeseen but real implications of coalition governments? Will it too be finding itself tearing itself in factionalism apart with court cases where personalities no dissimilar to COPE contested for leadership?
Aug 6, 2016