Julius Malema, the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party in South Africa, together with Floyd Shivambu knows how to appeal to the anxieties and frustrations of black youths. These young people are mostly unemployed, unemployable and leaderless. Both Malema and Shivambu know how to trade on members’ ignorance and lack of sophistication to the electoral advantage of the EFF party.
The EFF is a typical political party, big on populist rhetoric yet weak on strategy. The Members of Parliament (MP) are ignorant on socioeconomic issues and mask the inability to engage in policy with a wrong type of radicalism. The EFF party does fill the intellectual vacuum that the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) left open. This is typical of the ANC members who are dull, ignorant and unable to see further than the next meeting. Hence, Malema can build a career because the political environment is favorable for mediocrity to thrive.
Malema organized a march to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) to rally against racist whites controlling the South African economy. Organizing a massive protest is not an indication of the ability to govern sound policies that the EFF do not have. The EFF have in the past organized more successful marches than any other political party has yet it has no idea about the implementation of the strategy.
The EFF party is not only based on youthful politicking but also rather preoccupied with bigoted, short-term ideology. A party that is big on the manifesto, yet shallow and irrelevant on policy, mainly relating to the current status quo. The JSE, Reserve Bank, and Chambers are agents, not owners of anything that has an impact on the structural reality of the South African economy. Malema makes the right socialist noises, including on ways to tax corporations, yet nothing on growing the economy of South Africa. Making demands is easy but a self-respecting political party should also have the ability to implement ideas on growth strategies.
Malema is making the right populist noises and demands on companies that already know and have programs along those lines. The EFF has said nothing new; mining companies and big corporations have Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in place. The EFF marched to the offices of large corporations making demands for change, yet these companies had already implemented the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), social and labor plans, bursaries coupled with social responsibilities.
The march to the JSE was all about gaining admiration from members of the EFF party and insulting white business leaders, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, including top leaders of the ANC. The EFF did not deliver anything new or express anything significant relevant to what the BEE legislation is advocating.
South Africa needs solutions to overcome the current economic problems, not mere demands. The EFF is talking about how to take from corporations, not how to grow manufacturing, tourism or mining. The ruling ANC party has lost insight on how to facilitate the process of tangible change for transformation in all essential aspects of the plight of the affected young, poor, unemployed, illiterate masses of the black society. The ANC are concentrating on the cookie jar for short-term gains, which is now proving to have been miscalculated from the dawn of democracy.
Malema is shouting and preaching a gospel that comes from a script written by unknown people, language that the black people testify to easily. This script was written by people who have lived and experienced the hardships of segregation, economic exclusion, and unequal opportunities. The ANC remains content as the first party to govern the new democracy in South Africa that created a platform for black people to be further excluded economically. This, however, is an insult to the people who have died for ideals of an equal society with equal opportunities. The EFF is grandstanding time, and the movement is a radicalism to renew the struggle for economic emancipation for the majority of black people.
The EFF is a relatively new party, at only two years old, while the ANC was formed in 1912. ANC policies have evolved with time, and although there is a place for strategy, execution, and massive action, the EFF is unparalleled action wise while the ANC is paralyzed in the production of documents and doctrines of prehistoric times. The ANC is weak on execution while the EFF is on the ground every day. Success follows actions and the EFF party has an action-orientated attitude.
Opinion by Laura Oneale
Citizen.co.za – Malema addresses JSE racist whites
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