The South African political scene has been quite vibrant lately with the introduction of new kids on the block Agang and Economic Freedom Fighters. They are both intent on making positive impressions on the voters ahead of next year’s elections. South Africans are used to the mud-slinging and name-calling that is characteristic of the Democratic Alliance and African National Congress. Now, it appears a new episode of the same brand of conflict between the EFF and Agang is about to start.
On Wednesday, Agang leader Dr Mamphela Ramphele spoke at a high school in Polokwane. She presented the Frederik van Zyl Slabbert memorial lecture. Frederik van Zyl Slabbert was the leader of the Progressive Federal Party. He passed away in 2010. Ramphele believes he would be disappointed to see that so many people are still hungry, homeless and unemployed.
Once she had completed her eloquent delivery of the lecture, Ramphele then directed her attention to the Commander in Chief of the EFF, Julius Malema. According to media reports, she likened Julius Malema to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini. She compared Malema’s behavior to that of these two controversial leaders leading up to the Second World War. “You must not forget how Hitler and Mussolini emerged as leaders because desperate people were looking for an alternative. Malema is no alternative. He is facing corruption charges and does not pay his taxes.”
However, Julius Malema does not want to go down the name-calling route with Ramphele. He has profound respect for Dr Mamphela Ramphele whom he calls “Ma Ramphele”. He said that this is why he would not participate in an unpleasant exchange of words with her. He added: “I want to pass a message to her that Ma Ramphele, I still love you and respect you very much.”
South Africans head for the polls in 2014 and many expect that the presence of the new political organizations will be evident in the results. In particular, political analysts are keeping a close eye on the Economic Freedom Fighters who are the more radical group compared to Agang.